Drought conditions remain, but campfire ban lifted for north island

Vancouver Island, BC

Wildfire conditions are improving, leading the province to lift its campfire ban for the north half of Vancouver Island on Friday.

This notice came from the province’s Coastal Fire Centre today, despite the fact that all of Vancouver Island remains under Level 5 drought conditions, the most severe rating issued by B.C.’s Water Management Branch. Currently most of Vancouver Island also remains under the “extreme” fire danger rating.

But these conditions are expected to soon change, which is why the campfire prohibition will be lifted at noon on Sept. 3. The bottom half of Vancouver Island will remain under a campfire ban, extending south of Nootka Sound, Strathcona Provincial Park and the Comox Valley.

After months of very little rain and temperatures that reached 40 C on some days, cooler and drier conditions are coming, said Julia Caranci, a fire information officer with the Coastal Fire Centre.

“We are expecting a significant amount of rain this weekend, starting on Saturday,” she said. “We are now in a fall-like weather pattern where we’re having shorter days, we’re having average to low temperatures and we’re having better recoveries overnight as well.”

The Coastal Fire Centre also expects to see changes to the Vancouver Island portion of the fire danger rating map next week. This would entail less combustible fuel in the island’s forests.

“Definitely conditions are starting to change,” said Caranci. “The weather is not going to go back to that heat dome, the hot and dry temperatures that we were seeing up until a few weeks ago.”

While campfires will remain prohibited in the southern half of Vancouver Island, a ban is also still in place for Category 2 and 3 fires. These pertain to fireworks and burn piles larger than half a metre and two metres high, respectively. This order is set to remain in place until Oct. 15.

This year’s fire season has proven to be more severe than most. Nearly 900,000 hectares burned across B.C., more than double the average area over the last decade. The Coastal Fire Centre, which includes Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland, Sunshine Coast and central coast, saw over 7,000 hectares burned since the spring, more than last year and 2019. All evacuation orders and alerts have since been removed for the Coast Fire Centre.

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