Fires continue to ignite across Southeast Fire Centre

Wildfires continue to spark in southeastern B.C., even with wetter and cooler temperatures over the weekend.

The Sitkum Creek wildfire continues to burn northeast of Nelson.

The Sitkum Creek wildfire continues to burn northeast of Nelson.

Wildfires continue to spark in southeastern B.C., even with wetter and cooler temperatures over the weekend.

“We’ve had eight new fires since Sunday in the Southeast Fire Centre and 68 since last Thursday, which brings us to 253 in 2015,” said Fanny Bernard, an information officer with the fire centre. “Last year at the same time we had 36 fires in the southeast.”

The night of Friday, July 10, was the busiest for new fires, with 44 lightning-caused fires. One fire, near the base of Mount Aylwin south of Silverton, resulted in an evacuation alert for 17 homes in the area. As of Monday the fire was eight hectares and was being battled by a unit crew out of Revelstoke, along with two helicopters.

So far Revelstoke has escaped the brunt of the wildfire situation plaguing much of the province. According to the BC Wildfire Service, there were several small fires burning near here, however none were of note.

The majority of fires – 197 out of 253 – were caused by lightning, said Bernard.

“We’ve had a phenomenal amount of lightning since the start of June in the Southeast Fire Centre and most of these fires have been contained in the initial attack phase,” she said. “It’s really good work by the crews suppressing these fires when they were small.”

The one regional fire that did get away from them is the Sitkum Creek fire near Nelson, which had grown to 450 hectares as of Monday’s press time. The fire was being battled by 120 firefighters, four helicopters and six pieces of heavy equipment. It was 50 per cent contained on Tuesday.

Evacuation alerts for the Mount Aylwin and Sitkum Creek fires were lifted Tuesday morning.

Rain over the weekend helped bring down the fire rating from extreme in the Revelstoke area to moderate, however it was forecast to climb back to high again this week. More rain was forecast throughout the week.

“We would need a lot more rain to significantly alter the fire danger rating,” said Bernard.

A campfire ban is place for almost the entire province.

“It’s still dry out there and definitely not a time to be in violation of any prohibitions we have in place,” said Bernard.