Stage set for 'very large fire growth' in B.C. this month, seasonal outlook says

A motorist watches from a pullout on the Trans-Canada Highway as a wildfire burns on the side of a mountain in Lytton, B.C., Thursday, July 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C.'s record-breaking heat wave and drier-than-average June set the stage for "very large fire growth" in July, according to a seasonal outlook from wildfire officials.

The B.C. Wildfire Service's July forecast points to an abundance of fire fuel – such as dry grass, brush, trees and leaves – that's particularly prevalent in the Okanagan and southern parts of the province

"Recent weather and fuel conditions have made initial attack challenging, meaning large fires will likely be occurring throughout the province," reads the outlook.

"The Okanagan and southern Cariboo regions are showing very high hazard. Significant rain is required to reduce the hazard however none is forecast in the foreseeable future."

The recent extreme temperatures have left surface fuels to dry up quickly, the B.C. Wildfire Service said, meaning that "seasonal 'green up' is over for most parts of the province."

Burning conditions across B.C. are said to be three to four weeks ahead of schedule, and more typical of mid-July or August in an average year. That left much of the province vulnerable during the recent spate of dry thunderstorms, which are believed to have sparked dozens of new fires.

The B.C. Wildfire Service said more lightning is expected in the coming weeks as well.

As of Monday, when the seasonal outlook was released, B.C. had already recorded 689 fires, including 318 that took place on the week of June 28.