Welcome rain helps to dampen Vancouver Island wildfires

Forecast rain and lower temperatures should provide a reprieve for firefighters across Vancouver Island, who have spent the past week battling wildfires amid tinder-dry conditions.

Between five and 10 millimetres of rain are expected to fall on the south Island over the next three days, said Environment Canada meteorologist Trevor Smith. Heavier rain — 25 millimetres or more — is expected to drench the north Island.

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Victoria temperatures are expected to top out in the low 20s until at least Friday, far from the near 30 C scorchers of late June.

“Temperatures have cooled significantly and we’re getting rain everywhere for the southern parts of B.C.,” Smith said. “It’s certainly a welcome pattern for the B.C. Forest Service.”

Whether the rain will be enough to get wildfires under control is another question. After two dry months — May was the driest on record in Victoria, while June was the fourth driest — “we still have quite a rainfall deficit to make up,” Smith said.

“They probably need more rain than what we’re going to see to get the fire situation under control.”

The 450-hectare Dog Mountain fire near Port Alberni has been fully contained thanks to controlled burning, according to Marg Drysdale of the B.C. Wildfire Service’s Coastal Fire Centre. In Port Hardy, the Tsulquate Creek fire was considered 95 per cent contained.

The Martin Mars water bomber was ready, but didn’t deploy Saturday, said Wayne Coulson, CEO of Coulson Group of Companies. “We’re just waiting on standby with the province and they’ll point us to where we need to go.”

kderosa@timescolonist.com

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