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Heat wave raises spectre of wildfires, campfire ban

Even with typical July temperatures, residual moisture on the forest floor can be depleted in seven to 10 days

Recent warm, sunny weather could be the start of a much-longer hot stretch “without a very obvious end to it,” raising concerns about wildfires, says an Environment sa国际传媒 meteorologist.

Victoria-based Armel Castellan told reporters Monday that even with typical July temperatures, residual moisture on the forest floor can be depleted in seven to 10 days.

“That is the very strong concern as we go deeper into this week,” said Castellan, who said Environment sa国际传媒 collaborates closely with the sa国际传媒 Wildfire Service at this time of year.

Environment sa国际传媒 issued heat warnings Monday for much of Vancouver Island, as far north as Gold River, and a large swath of the rest of sa国际传媒

Castellan said with drought conditions over the past few summers, sa国际传媒 has “a two-year precipitation deficit” that was partly addressed by cooler-than-expected temperatures and some rainfall the past few months.

“Coming into this spring, concerns were extremely high and we got very lucky,” he said.

The outlook has changed, however, with recent rising temperatures and a lack of rain in the immediate forecast.

That means a campfire ban is now under consideration, said Coastal Fire Centre information officer Jade Richardson.

“Up until last week the on-and-off rain was very much on our side,” Richardson said. “Now that we’ve had this sustained heat, a campfire ban is something we’re looking at daily and will continue to look at through the week.”

Last year, which had the most damaging wildfire season in sa国际传媒 history, a campfire ban came into effect in the Coastal Fire Centre region June 8, but the year before, it wasn’t in place until Aug. 4.

About 2.84 million hectares were burned across the province last year, but so far, wildfires are under the 10-year average on the coast, Richardson said.

She said the public is being encouraged to “do their due diligence” by taking care in the outdoors. “We just hope people will continue to do that through this weekend while we have these temperatures.”

Castellan said sa国际传媒 communities such as Kamloops, Lytton, Lillooet and some Okanagan locations could see temperatures approaching 40 C or more on Tuesday, while a high of 37 C is forecast for the Island hot spot, Port Alberni.

He said that daily records may be broken during the current weather, as they were Sunday in places like Port Alberni and Nanaimo, “but they’re not necessarily breaking all-time records or all-time July records.”

“The edge of the event” should appear by Wednesday, with slightly lower numbers, Castellan said, but temperatures will still be quite a bit above seasonal norms into the weekend.

National warning-preparedness meteorologist Jennifer Smith said the current heat event doesn’t come close to the “heat dome” that descended on sa国际传媒 in late June of 2021.

“In 2021, heat-warning thresholds were met and then surpassed by an enormous margin,” she said. “That was truly an anomalous and extreme heat wave.”

One concern with the summer’s first sustained heat, however, is that people might not yet be acclimated to the warm temperatures, Smith said.

“Extreme heat can affect everyone’s health,” she said. “We need to take care of each other, especially our vulnerable populations.”

That includes seniors, people with chronic conditions and young children, Smith said.

Peter Barry, a senior policy analyst with Health sa国际传媒, said it’s important to recognize the signs of heat-related illness, which can include dizziness, nausea, headache or unusually rapid breathing and heartbeat.

“Extreme heat can affect anyone,” he said. “If you have any of these symptoms during extreme heat, move to a cool place and drink liquids right away. Water’s best.”

The City of Victoria has to help people cool down and lists 12 malls, community centres and libraries as places to escape the heat. Go to for a map of locations.

Visit for more information.

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