Burns Lake FireSmart coordinator Jesse Bird says trees with foliage growing adjacent to power poles are one of the main fire hazards in Burns Lake. Residents are encouraged to report them by calling 1-888-769-3766. 

Burns Lake FireSmart coordinator Jesse Bird says trees with foliage growing adjacent to power poles are one of the main fire hazards in Burns Lake. Residents are encouraged to report them by calling 1-888-769-3766. 

Burns Lake working towards FireSmart certification

“We don’t want something like Fort McMurray to happen to us,” says FireSmart coordinator

Last September, the Village of Burns Lake hired a temporary FireSmart coordinator, Jesse Bird, to help protect the community against the threat of wildfire and help local residents protect their homes.

Although Bird’s contract with the village ends in March, Bird has been setting long-term goals for the community and working towards having Burns Lake certified as a FireSmart community.

“This isn’t something we want to stop here, this is something we want to continue five, 10 years down the road,” said Bird.

“The importance of certification comes down to letting the community know that we are a FireSmart town, and spreading that commitment,” he continued. “It shows that more and more people are looking into this and trying to apply the techniques to keep our town safe so that we don’t have something like [the wildfire that happened in] Fort McMurray happen to us.”

One of the priorities to ensure that Burns Lake becomes a certified FireSmart community will be to address the issue of trees and vegetation growing adjacent to power poles and power lines.

“When the trees are touching the power lines, those [power lines] can ignite a tree,” explained Bird. “That’s one of our big problems.”

Bird said he would like to see the goal of addressing this issue included in Burns Lake’s official community plan, which is currently being reviewed.

Between First Avenue and Eighth Avenue there are approximately 15 power poles that need brushing work. Many of these critical spots have already been assessed by B.C. Hydro and work to address them is expected to begin in April.

In order to ensure that Burns Lake becomes a FireSmart certified town, Bird has also helped create a local committee with representatives from village council, Burns Lake Fire Department, B.C. Hydro, Burns Lake Community Forest, Chinook Community Forest and a member of the public. So far the group has held two meetings.

In addition to the information booths held in six different events in Burns Lake, Bird plans to go door to door within the next few weeks to provide information to homeowners on how to protect their homes and the community.

“It’s becoming more evident that these tidbits of information are saving homes,” said Bird. “Right now it’s winter time and people don’t think about wildfires; people don’t think there’s fire when there’s snow, but there really is.”

Bird said one of the common issues seen in Burns Lake is that some residents keep their firewood stock too close to their homes.

“A lot of people don’t go through their entire firewood stock through the winter, so they still have them sitting around come summer time,” he said. “That’s a hazard not just for themselves, but to those neighbours around them.”

Bird recommends that residents keep their firewood stock at least 20 metres away from their homes.

“I’d rather walk a few minutes every day [to pick up the firewood] than to have my entire house burned down.”

Bird said he’s willing to visit people’s properties to make an assessment if requested. He can be reached by phone at 778-833-4121.

In the next eight weeks, watch for ads on Lakes District News for more information on how to make your home safer.