All wet?

The province's fire season may get off to a late start according to British Columbia Forest Service. And the could be good news for the provincial Liberals, who budgeted for just $62 million in direct forest fire fighting costs during the coming fiscal year - dramatically lower than the average amount spent on such activities during the past ten years. In an interview with Public Eye, provincial fire information officer Kim Steinbart said, according to a forest fire season forecast prepared on April 14, from now until July "it's looking like it's going to be colder than normal temperature and preciption will be around normal or a little more than normal."

"Snow pack levels, while they do play a role in our fire predictions, they're not the most reliable source. But, looking at snowpack levels on the coast, we are below average. And then it kind of moves up to the central part of the province, they're around average. And they're above average toward the north. So snowpack levels will factor-in in that they'll take longer to melt if we have a cooler spring," she continued.

When that melting does happen, though, it will keep the soil and fine fuels moist. "Which means that fire starts could be delayed in the spring," said Ms. Steinbart. However, she cautioned "it's really dependent on what we see as far as weather and drying patterns throughout the next few months. So, if we have some nice warm temperatures, we'll get rid of that snow quickly and we could be into a drying pattern quite quickly."

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