Residents of Kelowna and surrounding communities may see smoke from a series of controlled fires over the next month, as a contractor working for the Okanagan Shuswap District collects and burns waste wood and other forest fuels in the Gillard Creek area.
In 2007, numerous pine trees in a 2,000-hectare area 10 kilometres south of Kelowna were blown down during a windstorm. All of the marketable timber in that area was subsequently removed and no salvageable wood is left.
The remaining waste wood represents a natural fire hazard and is also impeding reforestation efforts. The area is scheduled to be replanted in spring 2013.
The waste wood is being collected into piles up to four metres high and will be burned periodically over the next month (approximately from Nov. 1-30). To minimize the impact of smoke on nearby residents and communities, the fires will only be lit during favourable venting conditions when the smoke will disperse quickly. Smoke from the fires will likely be visible in Kelowna, West Kelowna and Lake Country.
Public safety is a top priority and the burns will be closely monitored. Signs warning people that they cannot enter the burn site without first contacting the contractor have been posted on roads leading into the area.
Forest Health Officer
Okanagan Shuswap District
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
250 212-3110 (cell)