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Public advised to be cautious as forest fire risk heats up

Aug 09 2012

A cool and wet spring has dampened the risk of forest fires on Vancouver Island so far this summer, but fire starts are now expected to pick up.

A recent stretch of hot temperatures and more warm, dry weather in the forecast has officials calling for the public to take care with fire in the woods.

Twelve fire starts were reported on Wednesday.

“We’re into our regular summer weather, so we’re seeing an increase in fire starts,” said Donna MacPherson, the Coastal Fire Centre’s information officer. “We really are asking people to be careful with campfires.”

Most of the Island is under a moderate to high forest-fire risk but there are spots near Duncan and Port Alberni that are considered at extreme risk, MacPherson said.

There’s no campfire ban yet for the Coastal Fire Region, she said, but one could be put in place if the region remains warm and dry. The forecast is calling for a drying and warm trend as the week progresses.

So far this year, MacPherson said, there are have been 76 fires in the coastal region, which includes Haida Gwaii, Vancouver Island and the south coast of the mainland. 

She chalked up the low number, which is about half what is usually seen, to the cold, wet spring.

Forty-four of the fires were caused by humans and 32 by lightning. The largest was 4.5 hectares, located in a remote area behind Pemberton.

The public is asked to take action if they see smoke in the woods. 

Forest fires can be reported by dialing *5555 on cellphones or by calling 1-800-663-5555.

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