Lots of lightning, few fires found

Recent thunderstorms keep Southeast Fire Centre staff alert

A map of recent lightning strikes in the Southeast Fire Centre.

A map of recent lightning strikes in the Southeast Fire Centre.

The Southeast Fire Centre saw numerous lightning strikes when storms rolled through the Kootenays last week but only four small fires in remote locations had to be dealt with.

When lightning hits the ground, a tree, or a tree’s roots, is can be contained within a small area which smoulders and can spark a blaze long after the storm has passed.

Since April 1, a total of 49 fires have scorched 169 hectares and 28 of those fires have been person caused. Over the same time period in 2012 and 2011, there were eight less person caused fires.

On average, it’s an even split each fire season between person and lightning caused fires.

Information courtesy of the Wildfire Management Branch explains exactly how lightning strikes are tracked:

“The Canadian Lightning Detection Network (CLDN) is provided by Environment Canada. The system consists of a network of direction finders that provide complete coverage of the province.  Each direction finder consists of antennas, and microcomputers to detect the electromagnetic pulse generated by a lightning strike. Lightning data from multiple sensors is processed and the exact location of the lightning strike is determined.  A web-based system allows Wildfire Management Branch staff to view mapped lightning strikes within minutes of their occurrence.  The coordinates, date and time for each strike can also be displayed.”

An open fire prohibition, started July 8, still applies to the Southeast Fire Centre but this does not include campfires.

The prohibition includes the burning of waste piles, slash, or other materials; grass fires; fireworks; sky lanterns and burning barrels of any size or description.

Some areas of the Kootenays were cooled down by a short but intense rainfall last week but the hot, dry weather is expected to continue and those heading in to the forests are urged to use caution and adhere to campfire regulations.