The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and BC Timber Sales are planning to conduct a 45-hectare prescribed burn near Topley over the next month to reduce the risk of wildfire and help maintain local ecosystems.
Prescribed burning is often used as part of an overall fuel management treatment plan, which may include thinning, pruning, chipping and selective harvesting.
During the prescribed burn, smoke and flames may be visible from locations near Topley and along Highway 16. Trained wildfire crews will be on site to carefully monitor the fire's progress.
The burn will proceed only if weather conditions are ideal for quick smoke dissipation and a low-intensity fire. The goal is to mimic a naturally occurring fire to remove dead and combustible material and discourage insect infestations. It will also help fire-adapted plant species reproduce, such as grasses that thrive in newly cleared areas or trees whose seeds are only released when exposed to heat.
Reducing forest fuel levels also helps limit the risk of catastrophic wildfires.
- Prescribed burning is used as an ecosystem management tool.
- Fire is a normal, natural process in many of British Columbia's ecosystems. Many species of plants, birds, insects and animals depend on fire for its regenerative properties.
- Fire helps control insects and the spread of disease in forests. It also contributes to forest succession, as younger trees replace older trees. Having trees of various ages in a forest helps maintain biodiversity.
- Prescribed burning is one of the tools used by forest professionals to achieve land-management objectives. For example, fire can be used to enhance habitat and improve forage for cattle, deer, bighorn sheep and moose.
- A controlled burn can also reduce fuel loads (combustible material such as underbrush and dead wood) and reduce the risk of wildfire in interface areas (where urban development borders on rural areas).
- The size and intensity of prescribed burns are carefully planned and controlled to meet management objectives for fire-maintained ecosystems. Prescribed burns are only ignited when weather conditions are favourable and when the fire will not create excessive smoke. Important factors that are used to determine the date of a burn include the venting index, temperature, humidity and wind conditions.
- The venting index is a measure of how quickly smoke will disperse under specific conditions. Prescribed fires may only be ignited on days when the forecast for the venting index is appropriate.
- All prescribed burns must comply with the Environmental Management Act's open burning smoke control regulation, which helps minimize the amount of smoke generated.
- A prescribed burn is ignited and continuously monitored by trained firefighting crews to ensure that the fire does not get out of control. The fire crew supervisor is responsible for ensuring that the initial burn conditions are favourable and that the fire is extinguished once the prescribed burn is completed.
For the latest information on fire activity, conditions and prohibitions in B.C., visit the Wildfire Management Branch website at: www.bcwildfire.ca
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Fire Information Officer
Northwest Fire Centre
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
250 877-9356 (cell)