Almost half as many hectares have burned in the Kamloops Fire Centre during the last month as caught fire in the region all of last summer, a fire information officer said Thursday.
But fire officials aren't yet ready to declare this season one for the books, as weather patterns during the next couple of months have traditionally told the tale.
"We'll know in October," Jeff Berry, superintendent of the province's airtanker program, said when asked what the summer will bring.
The long-term prognosis from Environment Canada is the region will see a warmer and drier June, July and August than normal. Berry said all he and provincial fire crews can do is plan, prepare and wait.
A typical fire season runs from April 1 to Oct. 31 with aircraft ready for takeoff in May, when forest fires and grassfires heat up. Fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek said just under 300 hectares have burned since this season began.
While this isn't a lot, it's staggering when compared to the 600 hectares that went up during the entire 2011 season, he said.
"Over the winter, we saw a lot less precipitation than normal. The snow pack has been higher throughout the whole province but, in our area, it hasn't been as high as others," said Skrepnek.
A key weapon in the province's forest firefighting arsenal is the airtanker, and the first wave of aircraft touched down at fire centres in Kamloops, Penticton and Williams Lake on Thursday.
Locally, there are two Convair 580 airtankers and a Turbo Commander bird dog, said Berry. By the time the summer is in full swing, there are 20 aircraft stationed at seven airtanker groups in the province, including Kamloops, Williams Lake, Prince George, Abbotsford, Penticton and Castlegar.
"They can be stationed around the province based on anticipated fire behaviour," he said.
June rains can make or break a fire season. Skrepnek said conditions can be dry leading into the sixth month of the year, but a few wet weeks have been known to change everything.
"We might get quite a bit of precipitation that really resets the whole season," he said.
All of this year's fires have been human caused, he said. Many are a result of controlled burns that have gone out of control. Skrepnek reminds people to set up a proper guard around the burns before lighting them.
Grassfires haven't been a big issue within City limits, but Fire and Rescue life safety educator Sheldon Guertin said crews have encountered several incidents of people burning without a permit.
He said it doesn't matter if residents want to have a cooking fire or burn yard waste, they need a permit. Having a fire without one is punishable with a non-negotiable $500 fine.
"We can't be flexible on that," said Guertin.
Permits can be picked up at Station No. 1 at 1205 Summit Dr. in Sahali.