Lightning caused five small wildfires in the Cariboo-Chilcotin region last Saturday and Sunday, said Natasha Broznitsky, Cariboo Fire Centre information officer Monday.
There are no fires of note as all of them are small and are not threatening any structures or communities at this time, Broznitsky told the Tribune, noting the fires are scattered throughout the Soda Creek, Quesnel Lake, Chilcotin and 70 Mile areas.
“Given the amount of lightning the Cariboo Fire Centre received over the weekend, more lightning-caused fires may show up in the next couple of days, so we are encouraging the public to keep an eye out and report wildfires by calling 1-888-663-5555 or *5555 on a cell phone,” Broznitsky added.
Environment Canada meteorologist Matt MacDonald said the Cariboo region, spanning south to Kamloops, north to Quesnel, east to the Rockies and west to the Chilcotin, saw more than 17,000 lightning strikes during the weekend.
The majority of the strikes were in the Wells Gray Provincial Park area and in the northwest portions of the region, he added.
“In the 25-kilometre radius around Williams Lake there were 36 lightning strikes,” MacDonald said. “On average the Williams Lake area receives a total of 549 lightning strikes per year in that 25-kilometre radius. You guys were 10 per cent over that on the weekend.”
Williams Lake ranks sixth in the province for the most lightning active city in B.C., he added.
Reminding the public of lightning safety, MacDonald said when “thunder roars go indoors.”
“Of all the weather-related deaths, it is the leading cause in Canada. On average 10 Canadians die per year from lightning.”
The safest place to be during a thunderstorm is inside a building or a metal vehicle, MacDonald said.
“If we could capture the energy from a single lightning strike, there would be enough to provide electricity to the average house for a month. We encourage people not to take lightning lightly.”