Officials warn of B.C. wildfire threat this summer

Officials warn of B.C. wildfire threat this summer

10 May 2010

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Canada — The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) and B.C. forestry officials are bracing for what they say could be a tough year for fires in extremely dry forests in the province’s interior.

“We’re seeing our valley bottoms with really low snowpack levels this year,” Michaela Swan of the Kamloops Fire Centre told CTV News. “Will that translate into a long term bad fire season? We can’t predict that. We’re just watching it day by day and looking at trends.”

Overall, B.C. is coming out of a particularly dry winter. When B.C. Minister of Environment Barry Penner recently tried his hand at checking the snowpack in the mountains above the Okanagan, at times there was no snowpack to measure.

“Being here it’s really evident what a serious situation we could have on our hands this summer,” said Penner to CTV News.

The IBC is comparing this year’s arid forest conditions to those of 2003, when hundreds of homes were destroyed in forest fires.

The Forest Service has brought in crews for training weeks earlier than normal, brushing up on their chainsaw skills in the hopes of preventing the kind of damage that occurred seven years ago.

Meanwhile the IBC is urging communities to take the proper precautions. They encourage homeowners to check out the FireSmart program, which provides tips on protecting homes from wildfire, such as:

• Replace cedar shingles and siding with non-flammable materials

• Replace coniferous bushes with safer deciduous plants

• Keep wood piles away from home

• Minimize forest litter around property

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