After a thorough investigation by a specialized fire cause investigator, the Wildfire Management Branch has determined that the Elaho wildfire was caused by lightning, not people.
The fire is burning about 67 kilometres west of Pemberton and is currently 40% contained.
The investigation assessed a variety of information, including weather station data when the initial phone reports were received, fuel types in the area and an analysis of fire spread patterns, to help determine the fire’s site of origin. The Elaho wildfire is burning in steep terrain within dense forest and limited access to the site made the investigation challenging.
In moist conditions, ignition caused by a lightning strike may not immediately develop into a visible fire. Heat can build up underground for days or even weeks and then flare up in drier weather conditions.
This type of lightning-caused fire is known as a “holdover” fire. In the case of the Elaho wildfire, a gradual warming trend occurred in the area that would have allowed a smouldering, lightning-caused fire to grow and finally become visible. The Elaho wildfire demonstrates how dry fine fuels on the forest floor, such as dried needles, leaves and twigs, can contribute to the growth of a wildfire.
The fire danger rating in the Coastal Fire Centre is mostly “high” with a few areas rated “moderate” or “extreme”. It’s only June, but the current weather patterns in the Coastal Fire Centre are more typical of conditions usually not seen until the middle of July or later.
The Wildfire Management Branch is reminding the public to exercise extreme caution in the backcountry. If you see smoke or flames, call 1 800 663-5555 or *5555 on a cellphone.
For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, go to: http://www.bcwildfire.ca
You can also follow the latest wildfire news:
- On Twitter at: http://twitter.com/BCGovFireInfo
- On Facebook at: http://facebook.com/BCForestFireInfo
Fire Information Officer
Incident Management Team
Wildfire Management Branch