Cooler weather reduced the number of new forest fire starts around B.C. by Friday, and winds have eased air quality to allow normal outdoor exercise for most parts of the province.
The only regions still reporting high air pollution readings were the Comox Valley and Whistler due to nearby fires, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall said Friday afternoon. In the rest of the province, people with chronic lung or heart conditions can resume normal outdoor activities, Kendall said.
There were 15 fire starts reported on Thursday, a decline from earlier in the week, B.C. Wildfire Management spokesperson Kevin Skrepnek said in a conference call from Kamloops. Lightning-caused fires were being reported Friday, mostly in southern B.C., with a risk of more lightning and wind as storms pass through.
A ban on campfires, burn barrels and fireworks continues province-wide, with unstable weather expected into next week.
With 959 total fires so far this season covering 263,000 hectares, the early fire season is about double the average of the past 10 years. There are 100 fire personnel from Ontario joining every available B.C. crew, with more help on the way from Australia next week.
Costs for direct fire suppression on July 9 alone are estimated to be $3.8 million, and the bill for the season has passed the $100 million mark.