Dry weather heightens fire warning

The Northwest Fire Centre is asking the public to be cautious when burning outdoors due to an increased wildfire risk

  • May. 18, 2015 8:00 a.m.

The Little Bobtail Lake wildfire has burned approximately 13

By Cecile Favron

The Northwest Fire Centre (NWFC) is asking the public to be cautious when burning outdoors due to an increased wildfire risk and to report any suspected wildfires to the BC Wildfire hotline.

The fire centre’s warning comes as Environment Canada predicts above-average temperatures this summer.

Terrace has two  firefighting crews – a unit crew and an initial attack crew – on standby in the event of a fire in the surrounding area.

The fire centre urges the public to exercise caution when burning outdoors because carelessness can result in human-caused wildfires.

“Human-caused fires are totally preventable and they take resources away from [fighting] naturally caused fires,” explained fire centre information officer Olivia Pojar.

The fire centre cautions the public against burning unnecessarily in dry conditions, especially in the spring when dried, dead grass increases the risk of a wildfire.

“Never leave a burning fire unattended [and] make sure that the fire is out [before leaving the site],” advised Pojar.

An alert and well-informed public can help prevent fires and people should be aware of burning restrictions within municipal or regional district areas.

The fire centre has more than 100 trained wildfire fighters to respond to fires across the northwest.

The region covered by the fire centre spans  from the Yukon border in the north then south to Tweedsmuir Park and east to Endako.

At the fire centre’s disposal are four unit crews of 20 firefighting personnel based in Terrace, Telkwa, Hazelton, and Burns Lake.

Unit crews are trained to respond to large, complicated fires.

“These crews are trained for sustained action on fires,” said Pojar.

“They’ll respond to fires that have been burning for a while.”

There are also eight initial attack, four-person crews spread out across the region.

Terrace, Telkwa, Houston, and Burns Lake each have two initial attack crews stationed at their bases. These crews are the first-responders to wildfires.

Initial attack crews can travel to even the most remote fires by helicopter and are completely self-sufficient for the first 24 hours once on the scene.

If a fire is not easily contained, unit crews are called in for a period of two weeks deployment to fight the fire.

When these resources are not enough to contain the fire, resources from other parts of the province are requested.

Forward attack bases are located in hot spots throughout the region depending on the weather conditions.

The fire centre also has air tanker bases in Terrace, Smithers, and Dease Lake.

The crews  in the region will often travel to other parts of the province should fire conditions dictate.

Dangerous activity which could lead to fires and actual fires should be reported to the  BC Wildfire hotline by calling *5555 on your cellphone.

As of late last week, there have been 10 small fires in the northwest region, which is down from the usual 20. Nine of these fires have been human caused.

Six of the fires are currently out and crews are checking-up on the remaining three periodically although they are no longer actively burning.

The interior region is already battling their first major fire of the season.

The Little Bobtail Lake wildfire has burned approximately 13,000 hectares as of late last week.

Ground crews are being assisted by helicopters, air tankers and  a large amount of heavy equipment.

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