By David F. Rooney
With fires popping up across the Southeast Fire District and the city rated as being at extreme risk from wildfire, Mayor Dave Raven says there is “an absolute ban on municipal burning.”
“There will be no exceptions,” he told Council yesterday. “And we will be very serious about this.”
This ban means no one can burn anything outdoors, except perhaps a gas-fired BBQ.
As if the hot, dry weather and the daily take offs and landings of water bombers at the airport isn’t warning enough, some fools continue to think they can burn things up with impunity.
Councillor Phil Welock told Council on Tuesday that local firefighters were called to one yard recently when one group of people decided to burn their skis.
“They came from a country that starts with an A and ends with an A and they were all having a very good time,” he said.
Mayor Raven, who is also manager of the Columbia Forest District for the Ministry of Forests and Range, said the risk of wildfire here is extremely high, in large part due to the amount of “slash loading.” That is the debris that falls to the forest floor when mature trees are felled and exploited.
“A fire here could be very difficult to control,” he said, adding that Revelstokians need to be very cautious at this time.
Meanwhile, a lightning-caused fire south of the Galena Bay ferry landing grew significantly overnight to 220 hectares or two square kilometers in size, pushed by strong winds and dry conditions, says a spokeswoman for the Southeast Fire Centre.
“The fire is burning in very steep terrain that is impossible to access in many areas,” Gwen Eamer said in a statement released today (Wednesday, July 29). “Yesterday, helicopters were bucketing water as the fire burned along a ridge. Crews worked below the slope to extinguish spot fires caused by embers and burning debris. Strong winds carried embers from the fire westward, causing fires in two cut-blocks. Those spot fires have now combined with the larger fire.”
She said crews and fire officials are developing plans to limit the fire’s continued growth. Today, 16 Type-1 wildfire fighters are working with two helicopters and heavy equipment to build containment lines. The fire is not currently a threat to any homes or communities.
An ongoing lightning storm has caused nearly 130 new wildfires across the Southeast Fire Centre in the past week, an average of 21 new fires each day.
Additional lightning-caused fires are anticipated this week. Human-caused fires prevent critical resources from responding to fires caused by lightning.
The Fire Danger Rating is currently high to extreme in the area from Nakusp through Revelstoke to Kinbasket. There is also an Air Quality Advisory in effect for Revelstoke since July 23.
Firefighters from the Southeast Fire Centre have responded to 240 wildfires since April 1, which together have burned 498 hectares. For further information, please visit the B.C. Wildfire Management Branch website at www.bcwildfire.ca.