Good news, bad news fire hazard

The West Country’s wildfire hazard has been a good news/bad news scenario this week.

The West Country’s wildfire hazard has been a good news/bad news scenario this week.

Cooler temperatures, higher humidity and some rain took some of the edge off the fire hazard.

However, the unsettled weather came with lightning, which sparked seven wildfires by Tuesday night.

“All of which have pretty much extinguished except two,” said Kristofer Heemerych, wildfire prevention officer out of Rocky Mountain House, on Wednesday.

“The lightning came with some rain as well, so it helps.”

While some areas got significant rainfall, others received much less and the wildfire hazard remains high.

“It’s not consistent across the area. It’s very patchy. This little bit of rain just buys us relief for a couple of days,” said Heemerych.

The provincewide fire ban is expected to remain in place through the weekend. It was imposed by the province on Monday because of dry conditions across Alberta and the need to marshal resources to fight large wildfires in the northern part of the province.

Weather forecasters are calling for a continuation of the unsettled Central Alberta conditions with afternoon showers and thunder showers.

“So we expect to pick up a little bit more precip in the area, but again it’s going to be very spotty and scattered. It’s not an organized event of rain.”

To lift the fire ban, the province needs to see widespread rain, including in the north which did not benefit from the latest rainfall.

So far this season, the Rocky Wildfire Management Area, which extends from Drayton Valley and Sundre west to the national parks, has avoided the worst of the fires. This season, 70 fires have been recorded, burning about 45 hectares (111 acres).

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com