Severe drought conditions exacerbating wildfires in northern B.C.

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      Extremely dry conditions in northern British Columbia are posing a challenge for first responders already stretched thin during a busy wildfire season.

      "Firefighting efforts throughout the Cassiar fire zone are proving to be very difficult due to high drought codes," reads an August 5 update from the provincial government. "Deciduous tree stands are usually considered safe zones for firefighters. Right now, these areas are giving little to no reprieve, due to the lack of moisture in the ground and trees.

      "Based on 31 years of data, the drought codes are the highest they’ve ever been at this time of year," it adds.

      The Cassiar fire zone covers an area around Cassiar, an old ghost town about a one hour's drive south of B.C.'s border with the Yukon Territory.

      According to the province's August 5 release, there are 25 active fires burning there.

      On the on the north side of the Tahltan River, the Muddy Lake fire has consumed 5,000 hectares. Near Telegraph Creek, the Alkali Lake fire (not to be confused with Alkali Lake in central B.C.) is approximately 800 hectares. And just north of Dease Lake, the Elbow Lake fire has burned about 450 hectares.

      In southern B.C., there are many wildfires burning in the Kamloops Fire Centre and Southeast Fire Centre. For now, the Coastal Fire Centre that Vancouver calls home is mostly spared from the sorts of large wildfires that characterized the summer of 2017.

      A total ban on campfires however remains in effect.

      "The Coastal Fire Centre is implementing these prohibitions due to high temperatures and no rain in the immediate forecast," reads a July 17 media release from the B.C. ministry of forests, lands, natural resource operations and rural development.

      "Since April 1, 2018, 69% of wildfires in the Coastal Fire Centre have been caused by people," it continues. "Human-caused wildfires are entirely preventable, and can divert critical firefighting resources away from naturally occurring wildfires."

      B.C. is still recovering from last year's fires. The 2017 wildfire season was the worst in generations. It "dwarfed the historic records for area burned in British Columbia at well over a million hectares, or 12,000 square kilometres," read a July 2017 government media release. "The effects on people, wildlife and our forest economy will be felt for many years to come.

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