Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development

Overwintering fires, hot spots may reappear this spring

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Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development

Overwintering fires, hot spots may reappear this spring

Media Contacts
Amanda Reynolds or Forrest Tower
Fire Information Officer
BC Wildfire Service
778 693-2880
Media Contacts
Amanda Reynolds or Forrest Tower
Fire Information Officer
BC Wildfire Service
778 693-2880

Backgrounders

Frequently asked questions: overwintering fires

What is an overwintering fire? Why might it emerge with the arrival of warmer and drier weather?

  • An overwintering fire is a remnant of previous wildfire activity that can burn deep into the ground and smoulder, even while showing no visible signs of activity above ground.
  • Overwintering fires can remain dormant and undetected all winter long, but hot spots may re-emerge with a return to warm and dry weather conditions.

What are the visible signs of an overwintering fire?

  • Given the large size of many wildfires in B.C. last year, some wildfires burned deep into organic soil layers, increasing the likelihood that overwintering fires will emerge in the spring.
  • The most common visual signs are smoke, smouldering ground or open flame within the wildfire’s original perimeter (the outer boundary of a fire).

What should be done if wildfire activity is seen?

  • Any perceived wildfire activity should be reported, even if it is within a previous wildfire’s perimeter. Call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.

What kind of suppression response will the BC Wildfire Service provide for overwintering fires?

  • The BC Wildfire Service monitors former wildfire areas and any renewed activity will be assessed.
  • In many cases, an overwintering fire will emerge deep within the original fire’s perimeter and can be monitored by the BC Wildfire Service while it extinguishes itself naturally.
  • If an overwintering fire emerges in an area containing unburned fuel or poses a potential threat to communities, infrastructure or natural resources, wildfire crews may be dispatched to extinguish the hot spot to ensure the fire does not spread.

Could an overwintering fire pose a threat to communities?

  • The majority of overwintering fires will remain well within the original fire’s perimeter.
  • Overwintering fires present a limited risk to communities, since previous wildfire areas near communities have been scanned using thermal-imaging technology and were patrolled extensively by firefighters.
  • However, any wildfire activity should be reported, even if it is within a previous wildfire perimeter. Call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.

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