A 15-person crew with the BC Wildfire Service is in the process of reducing interface wildfire risk at a location identified as a high wildfire risk location near Blackwater Road..
“This projects falls within the Community Wildfire Protection Plan and the intent here is to remove any of the excess hazard, whether it be dead standing timber or lying debris” explains Brad Blackwell, Wildfire Technician with the BC Wildfire Service. “The most efficient way to do that is to cut it up, pile it and conduct controlled open burns.”
The BC Wildfire Service works closely with the City of Prince George when conducting “periodic” burns within City limits. And while the project is 100% the provincial body’s job, close communication helps offset any potential for misunderstandings. Nonetheless, since the Fort McMurray and Slave Lake interface fires, wildfire risk is top of mind for the City.
“Since last year with the fires up north in Alberta, we’ve had a project in our capital expenditure plan that will work toward updating the Wildfire Management work that was done a number of years ago,” says Gina Layte-Liston, the City’s Director of Public Works.
The area in question has significant “blow down” of pine trees and other species. As the trees fall they “ladder,” presenting a criss-cross of dead trees, sometimes several feet high. That is a significant risk of wildfire. That’s a big driver for deciding to clean the area out.
“It not only reduces the threat of wildfire, but it removes any excess hazards from the forest floor,” explains Blackwell. “t also gives organizations like ourselves, the City of Prince George Fire Department, an advantage for suppressing any wildfires in urban interface areas.”
The hope is to have the 3.8 hectares cleared of risk by the end of this season.