Half of all B.C.’s wildfires are caused by people and most are preventable.
With hot summer weather finally arriving, staff at B.C.’s Coastal Fire Centre are urging campers and homeowners to start thinking about wildfire prevention.
Wet weather and mild temperatures promoted lush growth this year, which could translate into fuel for forest fires once it dries out.
So far, all areas of Vancouver Island are rated at a very low or low wildfire risk, but that can change quickly given the right weather conditions.
Marg Drysdale, Coastal Fire Centre spokeswoman, said with 10 days of hot dry weather on the way, people need to start thinking about fire safety.
“We know it’s going to be in the high 20s to 30 over the weekend,” Drysdale said. “Our worry is that people have become complacent because we had a slow year last year and we had a cool wet spring. Now we’re popping up into high temperatures. The fine fuels dry very quickly when we hit these kinds of temperatures and we really want people to be careful when they go out camping this weekend.”
She is also reminding the public there is a seasonal ban in place on all fireworks.
“A lot times people buy these things for the holiday and they continue to use them,” she said. “Going into a hot dry weekend, it’s probably not a good idea.”
Homeowners should also be putting consideration into the plants around their homes.
Certain kinds of plants, such as junipers, have a high resin content and will burn fiercely when ignited. Douglas fir trees can drop large quantities of branches, cones and needles, which become highly flammable when dry.
Making the right choices about garden plants and cleaning up flammable debris around the yard can help create a fire safety zone around the house.
“Routine maintenance is what we ask people to do,” Drysdale said. “When you’re replacing plants, look at a lot of stuff that is indigenous to the area and more fire-resistant. You’re going to save more money in the long run and it’s less risk.”
For tips and a list of fire resistant plants, please visit the FireSmart Canada website at www.firesmartcanada.ca.
For information about wildfire safety and how to prevent wildfires, please visit the B.C. Wildfire Management Branch website at www.bcwildfire.ca.