Cariboo Fire Centre responds to three spring wildfires

CFC has already responded to three spring wildfires, but zone protection officer Chris Betuzzi said season is normal for this time of year.

While the Cariboo Fire Centre has already responded to three wildfires since April 8, zone protection officer Chris Betuzzi said the season is sitting at normal for this time of year.

“It’s early and it isn’t,” Betuzzi said Monday. “We were a little concerned two or three weeks ago that we might be in for an early fire season, but we’re sitting at normal for this time of year.”

The lack of snow pack isn’t as big of a concern, as much as what will happen in May and June with rain fall.

“If May and June is damp or fairly rainy that helps with our main fire season in July and August,” Betuzzi explained. “Lack of snow and an early melt can impact grass season, but with the warm temperatures we had a little while ago it’s also greening up the grass quicker.”

Green grass like a green lawn doesn’t burn easily and in a couple of weeks the spring fire season will be completed, he added.

By Monday a 355 hectare fire on the bench near the road going into Junction Sheep Range Provincial Park in Farwell Canyon discovered on April 8 was at patrol stage.

“We’ve got a crew of five patrolling that today,” Betuzzi confirmed. “Its final size hasn’t really changed as of last week,” Betuzzi said, adding the last visible smoke from the fire was at around 4:30 p.m. Friday.

When fires occur at this time of the year in the grasslands they can grow quickly, but are easy to contain and put out, and often burn out on their own, he added.

The start of the fire is still under investigation.

It was anticipated that a second fire near Alexis Creek adjacent to Christie Road Bridge, measuring about 21 hectares, was also in patrol stage Monday.

“We should be able to call it out later today,” Betuzzi said.

A small four hectare wildfire started at Canoe Creek on Saturday was also in the patrol stage by Monday.

It was in the grass alongside the Meadow Lake Road right in the Canoe Creek community.

As of April 13, the CFC had five three-person initial attack crews for the Cariboo region on staff, plus sustained action crews of various sizes in key locations.

“We will be at full strength for summer time on May 4, our last main hire date,” Betuzzi said. “At that point we will have a total of 12, three-person crews and four, 20-person crews.”

And the centre’s air tankers will be stationed at the Williams Lake airport on May 4 as well, he said, adding if needed additional crews and equipment can be brought in from other areas in the province.