Forest service firefighters have some unexpected idle time on their hands so far this summer.
The Kamloops Fire Centre reports there are currently 45 fires burning within the region, covering an area of 123 hectares.
That compares to last year at this time when 96 fires were occurring, burning up 993 ha.
“It is certainly an unusual summer compared to what we have experienced in recent years,” said Madison Smith, fire information officer with the BC Wildfire Service.
“I can’t recall looking back on the last 10 years when we’ve had a summer forest fire situation like we have this summer. Our average in that time has been 125 fires and 148 hectares burnt, so we are well below average right now. ”
Still, Smith cautioned that temperatures are expected to heat up in the coming weeks, although the level of precipitation in May and June leading into July will alleviate the immediate impact of a dryer period.
Currently, there is no campfire ban in effect and category 2 fires, generally where farmers are allowed to burn slash material, are still being permitted.
“We still all have to remain mindful that when out in the bush, to make sure fires are extinguished because it will heat up at least in the short-term,” said Smith.
During this unanticipated slow period, Smith said firefighting ground and aerial crews are practising their firefighting strategies to keep sharp, and firefighters are also working on other recreation site projects to help minimize potential fire fuel hazards.
Last week, an aerial-ground crew practise session near Falkland which led some to believe there was a forest fire occurring as they watched retardant bombing runs.
Smith said similar practice sessions have taken place across the fire centre zone, which encompasses a diverse terrain across south central B.C., from Blue River in the north to the U.S. border in the south and from Bridge River in the west to the Monashee Mountains in the east, with the administrative office based out of near the Kamloops airport.