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This year's B.C. fire season is the third largest on record

Three of the five largest fire seasons have happened in the last four years
A helicopter flies over smoke at the Tunkwa Lake Road fire earlier this spring. (via Brendan Kergin)

After last year's massive record-breaking fire season, 2018 might not seem as huge, but it's one of the biggest ever.

Measured by hectares burnt, this is the third largest season on record, according to B.C. Wildfire Service fire information officer Kyla Fraser.

Records start in 1950. So far, over 604,000 hectares of land have been charred this year (an area significantly larger than the province of P.E.I.).

"Last year was just over 1.2 million hectares burnt, so definitely the biggest year on record," she says. "The second worst season was 1958 and that was 855,000 hectares."

For comparison, the fourth worst year was 1961 (483,000 hectares) and the fifth was 2014 (368,000 hectares).

Fraser says the wildfire service is taking into account the fact three of the five largest fire seasons happened in the last four years.

"That's something to take into consideration," she tells KamloopsMatters. 'We are taking a lot of these things into mind as we go through each fire season."

The major difference between this year and last is the size of last year's biggest fires and the sheer number of fires this year. Fraser says almost 550 fires are burning currently. Last year, according to the province's website, there were around 1,400 fires throughout the entire year.

"Last year, it was a little more concentrated with the Elephant Hill fire and the Plateaus complex, which were quite large," she says. "Fortunately, we don't have anything of that scale.

"The largest this year is the Shovel Lake fire, which is over 84,000 hectares."

In 1950, the year records started, a wildfire between B.C. and Alberta grew to 1.4 million hectares, but only 90,000 hectares were on B.C. land.


Brendan Kergin

About the Author: Brendan Kergin

Brendan Kergin is a digital reporter based in Kamloops.
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