Forest fires above 10 year norms

Provincial trend defied; untended campfires remain a stubborn problem.

Equipped with an aerial torch instead of an aerial water bucket

Despite a small  two per cent dip in the number of forest fires this season on a provincial level, the Northwest fire centre saw almost thirty more fires – 120 so far this season – than the 10-year running average of 91 fires.

Of the 120 fires in the Northwest, 38 where handled by Nadina Zone unit and initial attack (IA) crews.

Suzanne Pearce, fire information officer for the Northwest Fire Centre, reports that of those 38 fires, 18 were person-caused and the remaining 20 the result of lightning.

Abandoned or improperly extinguished camp fires in provincial recreation sites throughout the area remain a concern.

Thirty-five abandoned campfires were reported this season.

“Despite our prevention efforts, we continue to have a very high number of abandoned campfires each year in our local recreation sites,” said Rob Krause, local Nadina Zone forest protection officer.

The Burns Lake unit crew had almost half its calls to respond compressed into a one week period in early August, when they responded to 21 of the 38 fires reported so far this season in the Nadina fire zone.

A compressed season didn’t mean less work for the Burns Lake wildfire fighters.

“The Burns Lake unit crew, in addition to fighting fires in the Northwest fire centre, were deployed to the Yukon early in the season and Idaho through the end of August,” Pearce said.

“The two Burns Lake IA crews worked in the Nadina and Cassiar zones… and were deployed to the Prince George, Kamloops and Southeast fire centres, [and] the Yukon.”

The majority of the Burns Lake crews may have disbanded for the season, but their mark on the local community remains.

Wildfire management branch personnel across the province are known for the engagement with local outdoor projects. The Burns Lake crews were often seen out on local trails working on major improvements.

“These projects included upgrades to boardwalks at Kager Lake; trail improvements and maintenance on the Eveneshen and Rod Reid trails; fuel management projects at Eagle Creek, Tintagel, Kager Lake and Verdun Lookout,” Pearce said.

They also did regular maintenance to the many area forest recreation sites on behalf of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

With the inevitable cool and wet fall season just around the corner, Northwest fire centre personnel have been burning debris piles made this summer in the 2010 Binta fire zone.

More than 2500 piles of fire-killed trees spread across 550 hectares of scorched earth. Burning those piles help prepare the area for reforestation through the provincial Forests for Tomorrow program.

“Burning heading into winter adds an extra degree of comfort as any remaining heat in the burn area will be snow covered and extinguished before another summer’s heat is upon us,” Pearce added.



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