Fire season slow so far in the Boundary

A relatively cool spring has helped to keep fires to a minimum around the Grand Forks and Christina Lake area.

There has been one benefit to the relatively cool spring we experienced and that’s the infrequency of fires in the area.

Ken Gresley-Jones, fire chief at Christina Lake, said that this year has been extremely slow in the case of calls for fire crews.

“In 32 years in the fire service, this is the quietest summer I can ever remember,” Gresley-Jones said. “It’s scary because in our business it’s not a case of if, but a case of when.”

He said they haven’t responded to one bush fire or structural fire this season.

“Since January has been either rescue-related calls, car accidents or medical emergencies.

This time of year, we’ve had two to four calls a day at times and it’s just really strange. We’re all kind of sitting here on eggshells wondering what’s going on.”

Gresley-Jones said that the Lake usually only has a few structural fires a year, but they also respond to bush fires, as well as grass fires that get out of control.

“We respond to all sorts of things,” he said. “You have to remember that if there’s some kind of emergency and they don’t know who to call, they always call the fire department. We respond to a variety of things. It’s not that we haven’t had any calls. We certainly have, but it’s just a lot quieter than normal.”

The Christina Lake Fire Department’s district goes from the Paulson Bridge, to the Santa Rosa summit, the border and partway to Grand Forks.

Karlie Shaughnessy, fire information officer for the Southeast Fire District, said fires are down across the whole district.

“We’ve had 33 wildfires to date, which have burned 28 hectares,” Shaughnessy said. “Eleven of those were lightning, the rest were person caused.”

Around Grand Forks there have been only three fires to date. She said that all but one was caused by lightning and that they were all 0.009 hectares or less, which is fairly small.

The fire danger rating for this area was elevated this week to moderate/high.

She said that usually at this time of year it’s moderate to high or high to extreme.

She added that as the area starts to see more normal summer temperatures, they expect forest fuels to reach their drying point, where they will be susceptible to catching fire. “Things are still fairly damp out there,” she said. “If this weather keeps up we’re looking at about a couple weeks before the forest fuels dry out.”