Members of the public are advised to use caution while travelling on Crown Land in the Cariboo where wildfires occurred in 2017, especially in areas where fireguards were established to help fight those fires.
A fireguard is a strip of land running along a wildfire’s perimeter (typically five to 10 metres wide) that is cleared of vegetation and other flammable material to slow a fire’s spread. Fireguards are either constructed manually by ground crews or by heavy equipment, such as bulldozers, excavators or tractors. Firefighters will then use these open areas to carry out fire suppression operations and help bring a wildfire under control.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development has been working diligently to rehabilitate fireguards established in the Cariboo last year.
These environmentally sensitive areas are not intended for vehicle traffic, including off-road vehicles. Anyone travelling or participating in recreational activities near fireguards, or within burned areas, should be aware of the following risks:
- Heavy machinery (including excavators, skidders and graders) may be working on or near fireguards. Stay clear of any such machinery at all times.
- Existing off-road vehicle (ORV) trails now may be impassable, due to the effects of fire and fireguard construction.
- Fireguards may be impassable due to a rehabilitation treatment called “pullback”, in which soil and wood debris is distributed along the fireguard.
- Trees and tree roots within burned areas can be severely damaged by fire, making the trees unstable. They could fall down without warning at any time.
- Increased water flow from the spring runoff (freshet) may have washed out sections of roads, trails and fireguards, which could result in deep ditches across your intended route.
Off-road vehicle operators must remain vigilant at all times while riding on Crown land. They should also be aware that, to help prevent wildfires, spark arrestors are now required for all off-road vehicles operating on Crown land. More information is available online at: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018FLNR0044-000479
- A fireguard is a strategically planned barrier, either manually or mechanically constructed, intended to stop or retard the rate of spread of a fire, and from which suppression action is carried out to control a fire.
- Rehabilitation is the implementation of stabilization treatments that address impacts to natural drainage patterns, erosion and fuel hazards that have resulted from disturbances created by heavy equipment during fire suppression activities.
To read more about wildfire behaviour and wildfire management techniques, visit the BC Wildfire Service website: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/wildfire-status/about-bcws/wildfire-response