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How Canada’s worst wildfire season could affect the Island

With three active wildfires on the Island, wildfire season is expected to get worse as the summer progresses

Robyn Bell
June 6, 2023
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

How Canada’s worst wildfire season could affect the Island

With three active wildfires on the Island, wildfire season is expected to get worse as the summer progresses

Robyn Bell
Jun 6, 2023
The Cameron Bluff wildfire. Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily
The Cameron Bluff wildfire. Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

How Canada’s worst wildfire season could affect the Island

With three active wildfires on the Island, wildfire season is expected to get worse as the summer progresses

Robyn Bell
June 6, 2023
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How Canada’s worst wildfire season could affect the Island
The Cameron Bluff wildfire. Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily

As hundreds of fires continue to burn across Canada, data from the federal government shows that this summer will likely be the worst wildfire season the country has ever seen. According to Canada’s emergency preparedness minister, current images of wildfires throughout the country are some of the most severe ever witnessed. There are currently 424 fires in Canada, with more than 250 considered out of control.

The Island is no exception to this—BC’s wildfire service has seen an uptick in activity in the coastal region, with three fires burning on the Island.

The spot fire near Spruston Road outside of Nanaimo has been put out. It was reported on June 4, and was human caused by a camper fire. 

The Cameron Bluff fire is considered out of control as it burns through 20 hectares of forest. The fire was reported June 4 and its growth is due to strong overnight winds. It is located within steep terrain, so two helicopters are bucketing in inaccessible areas. 

Nearby Highway 4 was closed near Koen Road on Tuesday and travellers were asked to avoid the area. Lengthy delays are expected and detour options were being assessed.

The Newcastle Creek fire on the North Island is being held at bay within the 208 hectare zone. The cause of this fire is suspected to be human, and 20% of the fire is burning in extreme slopes and hazardous work conditions.

To prevent more human-caused fires, Coastal Fire Centre has enacted a campfire prohibition that will come into effect this Thursday, June 8. Campfires will be prohibited throughout the Coastal Fire Centre, except for the Haida Gwaii Forest District. The prohibition applies to all public and private land and includes the use of fireworks, sky lanterns, burn barrels, torches and related items, as well as open fires.

While the increase in fire activity is concerning, it’s unlikely that urban areas on the Island will see evacuations like those in Nova Scotia, though more rural regions—particularly north of Port Alberni—are at risk for both fires and floods. The unprecedented heat and dry conditions last fall could contribute to a higher risk of these fires occurring.

BC can expect its wildfire season to only get worse as the summer progresses, since Southern BC is more resistant to wildfires in the spring than Northern BC and Alberta, where fires were already raging last month. Heat waves are likely this year due to El Niño conditions that are expected to cause a global surge in hot temperatures.

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Robyn Bell
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