Fire service personnel responded to two incidents of smoking debris in the Burns Lake region in the first week of April. (Lakes District News file photo)

Fire services respond to two smoke incidents

Two incidents in the Burns Lake region on April 1 of smoking organic matter were reported to fire centres and assessed.

The events come as dry conditions since March have seen several fires break out across British Columbia.

READ MORE: Unusually dry March leads to dozens of grass fires in B.C.

The first incident occurred near Ootsa Lake and was an overwintering fire that came from a peat bog, Northwest Fire Centre spokeswoman Carolyn Bartos told Lakes District News.

“A property owner noticed the smoke and called the fire centre. Wildfire assistant Will Roberts from Burns Lake went out to assess it. It was of no risk. A crew will be sent out on [April] 8 to dig it up and douse it with water,” she explained.

“It was part of the Verdun fire. It was smoke that re-appeared in the perimeter of the Verdun Mountain Fire.”

That fire was one of the largest in the region during last summer’s wildfires and grew to more than 47,000 hectares in size.

LOOK BACK: Nadina Lake and Verdun Mountain fires 40 per cent contained

Overwintering fires are the remains of wildfires that have smouldered underground during the winter months.

“As the temperature increases it causes the heat to come out. With the right conditions, wind and warming there’s a possibility it could turn into fire,” Bartos said.

The second incident, also reported on April 1 involved smouldering grass about four kilometres north of Highway 16, near Stellako.

A CN Rail crew noticed smoke close to the train tracks and the company called the Prince George Fire Dispatch, said Forrest Tower, a fire information officer with the Prince George Fire Centre.

The crew had brought the smoking grass under control by the time fire service personnel arrived. They checked it and it was not deemed a concern.

“It was under 1 hectare. Sparks might’ve jumped off from metal on metal [on the train tracks]” and burned the grass, Tower said.

The BC Wildfire Service warned in late March of the risks posed by overwintering fires, especially in areas where very intense and large fires burned in 2018.

The service has been monitoring those areas with firefighters and using thermal imaging technology.

Blair McBride
Multimedia reporter
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