Winter generally isn’t thought of as a hotspot for forest fires.But 151 holdover blazes from last year’s record forest fire season are still burning, including four since January 1 of this year.According to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC), 93 are in British Columbia, 57 in Alberta and one in the Maritimes.Of those 137 are classified as ‘under control’, 12 are ‘being held’ and two are still out of control — both in BC. By comparison there were none in Saskatchewan and Manitoba — or Quebec and Ontario.“Wildland fire activity is minimal and most jurisdictions experience light/moderate wildland fire danger. The demand for firefighters and equipment from other jurisdictions is light,” it said in its web site..So-called holdover fires — which as defined as those that extend through a calendar year — can remain dormant or undetected under the snowpack for considerable periods of time and can even travel underground. Hotspots can linger for years, especially in areas that were severely burned in the summer.That’s not a new phenomenon in Alberta where winter grassfires are quite common and spring up in the drier winter months. But the problem is particularly unique — and acute — in BC where the fires have been fuelled, ironically, by atmospheric rivers of rain that cause the snow to melt and run off instead of being absorbed back into the ground.Virtually all of BC's presently burning fires are in the Prince George area which is still in a Level 5 drought, according to the provincial government. In fact, snow pack levels are only 56% of normal across the province and especially in the BC interior.."Water storage doesn't help us when we are already in a drought situation and don't really expect a lot of snow or rain,"Alberta Environment Minister Rebecca Schulz.Although things could change between now and spring in terms of snowfall, much depends on what happens in the Pacific Ocean and El Niño weather patterns which tend to result in warmer and drier conditions on the prairies.That’s already raising concern for both the upcoming fire and crop seasons after 2023 was already the worst on record in both Alberta and BC.In Alberta the bigger concern is for southern farmers where major watersheds and irrigation dams are barely a quarter full. About half of crop growth comes from snowmelt after two successive years of widespread crop failure and some experts are already comparing it to the Great Dust Bowl.Alberta is already bracing for this year to be as bad or worse and has attempted to preempt with early water sharing agreements. At a recent town hall meeting in southern Alberta, Environment and Protected Areas Minister Rebecca Schulz said sharing agreements should be in place in the even of a worst case. That’s prompted calls for storage solution but Schultz said it’s a moot point without water, to begin with."Water storage doesn't help us when we are already in a drought situation and don't really expect a lot of snow or rain," she said.