The start of summer is still months away, but there is already a major forest fire burning in the province.
According to the B.C. Wildfire Service, fire crews are responding to a wildfire in the Central Interior, about five kilometres northwest of Nazko and 90 kilometres west of Quesnel.
As of 7 p.m. on on Friday evening, the blaze was estimated to be approximately 2,500 acres in size – equivalent to an area of two and a half times the size of Vancouver’s Stanley Park.
“The BC Wildfire Service and forest industry personnel are currently responding to this incident with suppression resources,” reads a statement by the Wildfire Service. “Firefighters and heavy equipment are currently on site, and more resources are en route.”
There is no drought in the area and the region has received 102% of its average snowpack over the past winter. But above seasonal temperatures and sunny conditions are likely a factor.
Temperatures in the area will continue to be relatively warm, reaching 20°C over the weekend. Similar conditions are expected to last through next weekend.
The cause of the fire is not known at this time.
Last year, over 740,000 acres or 3,000 square kilometres of forest in the province burned from wildfires. The provincial government spent nearly $300 million in fighting the fires, which is two times larger than the 10-year average.
In most cases, the fires were caused by human activity. A lack of rainfall and snowfall also provided tinder dry conditions.
2015 was the worst wildfire season since 2003 when fires caused tens of thousands of people to evacuate in the Okanagan area. Entire communities, about 239 homes, were destroyed in the Okanagan Mountain Park fire.
Across the province, as of this week, snowpack levels are within the normal range of 80% to 120%, with a provincial average of 91%.