By Cam Fortems
Kamloops This Week
The number of grassfires in the region is up nearly 60 per cent over the 10-year average, a situation caused by dry conditions and carelessness.
The Kamloops Fire Centre reported 19 fires since April 1, which is up from eight fires last year and 11 fires on average. The largest and most recent blaze was near Ashcroft on April 8 and grew to 6.6 hectares.
“A number have been three to five hectares,” said spokeswoman Kayla Pepper.
Those have included fires near Kamloops, Lillooet and Penticton. The fire centre’s boundary extends south to the United States border.
Officials said each fire was caused by carelessness, typically grass or debris-pile burning that went out of control in dry conditions.
Following the snow melt in valley bottoms, Pepper noted, the region has not received much additional precipitation.
“Grasses dried out quickly and there’s a significant amount of wind,” she said.
While the fire centre encourages preventive burning, officials said careful management must include that tools, people and water are nearby. Landowners must also avoid burning in windy conditions — a cause of many of the recent fires.
Open burning is allowed, but any fire greater than .2 hectares requires a burn-registration
number ahead of time by calling 1-888-797-1717. Those wishing to conduct an open burn must also check venting conditions. If venting conditions are rated “poor” or “fair,” open burning is restricted. The venting index can be found online at: http://www.bcairquality.ca/readings/ventilation-index.html