The Harrop fire, discovered late Thursday afternoon, does not immediately threaten any structures or communities. Photo: Peter Fiorino

Hot forecast fules wildfire concerns

Following weather is key, says Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Chief Dan Derby

With temperatures expected to hit 40 C (104 Fahrenheit) this week and zero per cent chance of rain, regional firefighters are reminding all Trail and Greater Area residents that there is to be no backyard burning, period.

One West Trail person learned firsthand just how serious this message is after he/she received a $1,150 citation last week.

Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue and a Conservation Officer responded to a burn complaint in the city’s west side just after 7 p.m. last Thursday.

“Upon arrival, members found the occupant to have a fire in a burn barrel,”confirmed Grant Tyson, the department’s operations captain. “The home owner was fined $1,150 … regional fire rescue would like to remind everyone, no burning is allowed.”

Campfires, banned in the Southeast Fire Centre since July 7, can now be reported to the RAPP (Report All Poachers and Polluters) phone line at 1.877.952.7277.

Tyson added, “If there is enough evidence of a fire, the people responsible can face a significant fine.”

Fire Chief Dan Derby says the department is well prepared for emergency situations, however the ongoing hot and dry conditions are worrisome.

“Following the weather is key to understanding wildfire response and the rate of spread that can be anticipated by a wildfire,” Derby told the Trail Times. “The weather forecast going into (this) week is the same, and will continue with even hotter temperatures, that’s concerning.”

As part of heightened alert across the province, Derby says the department participates in daily briefings with EMBC (Emergency Management BC) and the BC Wildfire Service to discuss weather and the current fire situation, as well as preparedness and planning activities.

Well in advance of the season, firefighters complete annual wildfire refresher training, train with the BC Wildfire Service, and EOC (Emergency Operations Centre) staff are trained to support responses to wildfires.

“Additionally, we track our paid-on-call firefighter availability across our six fire halls to understand availability when we are in high and extreme fire danger rating,” said Derby.

“We have specialized equipment for wildfire response, pumps, hoses, bladders, structure protection unit for sprinkler protection of homes.”

Derby reminds locals to keep up-to-date on FireSmart tips and PreparedBC guidelines for household preparedness. The resources can be viewed on the RDKB website, or in pamphlet-form at government agency offices.

The Southeast Fire Centre has responded to 194 wildfires to date, the most recent being one human-caused and one lighting-caused fire since Sunday.

Locally, the largest active fire is located about 10 kilometres (km) south of Harrop and Procter on the West Arm of Kootenay Lake, and has been burning for five days.

“BC Wildfire Service personnel are continuing to monitor and develop control strategies for the 80-hectare Harrop Creek wildfire,” said Fire Information Officer John Boivin in Monday update.

“The fire, which has been burning since July 27, poses no threat to any communities or infrastructure at this time and is burning at an elevation of 2,000 metres.”

Steep and rocky terrain impeded action by air tankers and initial attack crews, however, a heavy-lift helicopter has now been dispatched to support local efforts.

“The BC Wildfire Service reminds the public that campfires are prohibited throughout the Southeast Fire Centre,” Boivin said. “And urges the public to abide by these restrictions to reduce the number of human-caused wildfires, which can divert critical resources from naturally occurring wildfires.”

Other active wildfires on Monday included:

• The Desmund Creek wildfire, one km from the north edge of Kokanee Glacier Park, covers about 2.5 hectares. Three BC Wildfire Service personnel were on site with the support of three aircraft.

• The Mat Creek wildfire, northeast of Goat Range Park and seven km southwest of Highway 31, covers about 0.1 hectares. A four-person crew was working on the fire.

• The 39-hectare Ward-Bloom fire, about 34 km southwest of Baynes Lake just north of the U.S.A. border, experienced no significant growth overnight and had 35 personnel on site, supported by five pieces of heavy equipment.

• A 20-hectare fire at Healy Creek was burning about 11 kilometres northeast of Highway 31 and about 15 kilometres west of Duncan Lake. Due to location, the fire was only being monitored. This type of fire-management strategy is called “modified response” and means that BC Wildfire Service personnel are monitoring the fire’s activity to ensure the fire remains within specific parameters and meets land-management guidelines.

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