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From flood to flame: BC wildfire season ramping up due to unseasonable heat

Smoke rising from the Xusum Creek wildfire west of Lillooet on May 23, 2018 (Courtesy: BC Wildifire Service)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Flames are spreading near Kamloops and Lillooet as the wildfire season starts to ramp up in BC. The recent stretch of heat — the same weather behind record flooding — is to blame.

Kevin Skrepnek at the BC Wildfire Service says it’s been unseasonably hot and dry for a few weeks across most parts of the province.

“We aren’t necessarily seeing more fires than normal, but the fires that we are responding to — particularly, in the northern part of the province… in the Peace Region — we are seeing some pretty aggressive activity.”

The unseasonable heat has been melting the snowpack, swelling rivers and lakes, while at the same time drying out forests.

“They do come hand in hand a little bit. I realize it might seem a little [in contrast] that we’re dealing with both at the same time, but that’s definitely the reality of what we’re seeing right now. We saw a little bit of it last year.”

Skrepnek says any rain between now and Canada Day will significantly shape the wildfire season. “Those June rains — how much rain we get, where it falls and how long it lingers for — are huge drivers of activity, once we get into the core months of July and August.”