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37 new wildfire starts in PG Fire Centre, burning restrictions in place

The wildfire season in British Columbia has gotten off to a nuclear start.

49 new fires started across BC yesterday, 37 of them in the PG Fire Centre.

More than 500 homes are under some form of evacuation order or alert in the Peace, where 10 fires are more than 100 hectares in size. The largest fire in the Northeast is an estimated 3000 hectares. Portions of the Alaska Highway have been closed.

A spokesperson with the BC Wildfire says they have crews battling a handful of small fires near Vanderhoof, Burns Lake and one near McBride which closed Highway 16 briefly on Monday.

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Environment Canada is predicting a hotter than normal summer, although Forests Minister Steve Thomson calls the early start to the season “concerning”, he says it’s still far too soon to make predictions about the rest of the summer.

“The long term weather models indicate trends over time, they are difficult to reliably forecast what’s going to happen more than two days in advance.”

In 2015 the fire season unofficially started with the Little Bobtail Lake fire near Vanderhoof on about May 9th.

“It’s important to remember it’s not uncommon to have an early spring grass fire season in BC, but certainly not to the level of activity we are seeing in the Peace region and elsewhere.” Kevin Skrepnek with the BC Wildfire Branch said

As a result, burning restrictions are coming into effect in the Prince George Fire Centre.

Specifically, prohibited activities will include:

* the burning of any waste, slash or other materials
* stubble or grass fires of any size over any area
* the use of burning barrels or burning cages of any size or description
* the use of sky lanterns, tiki torches or fireworks
* the use of stoves and other portable campfire apparatuses that are not CSA/ULC approved

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