Traffic was down to single lane along the highway between Kimberley and Marysville due to a prescribed burn in Forest Crowne. Paul Rodgers photo.

Forest Crowne prescribed burn accomplishes objectives smoothly

A quick break in the recent spate of wet weather allowed the City of Kimberley to go ahead with a prescribed burn starting on Wednesday, May 4 on a 14 hectare section of land near the Forest Crowne subdivision.

The burn was weather-dependent, and so the teams were able to go ahead with it when a meteorologist from the BC Wildfire Service let them know it was safe. There were strong winds along the top of the steep hill, but it was quite calm along the highway where the burn unit actually was.

“It all worked out well, it kept smoke out of the subdivision,” said Bob Gray, who leads the Wildland Fire Mitigation Program. “It’s a steep slope so a lot of folks were pretty tired after lighting all day, but we got really good coverage, we got a lot of good fuel consumption, nobody got hurt, the public as far as we could tell were quite happy with it.

“So all in all good, that’s kind of what we’re shooting for, we’re trying to meet our objectives, do it safely and effectively and mother nature came in the next day and put it out for us so all good.”

Gray explained that last year, on that same slope, just north of where this burn unit stopped, there was a wildfire that moved up the hill quickly and aggressively.

“So there is potential there for a summer wildfire to come up the hill, so this was certainly reducing that hazard,” he said. “It will have to be burned again in probably three or four years and then on a fairly regular schedule.”

Because forest fuels regrow, this burn is not just a “one-and-done” operation, Gray added, although the work will be easier next time.

The burn was funded by the Community Resiliency Initiative Fund from the Union of BC Municipalities and was a collaborative effort between the City, the Cranbrook Fire Department and Cranbrook Fire Zone. Colleen Ross, a private consultant who used to work for the Province, was the burn boss. Crews from Wildfire Forestry Services from Nelson were also on site.

“That’s how these things have to go ahead, because no one group has the capacity to do it all, so it becomes a great opportunity to work with one another and work toward a common goal,” Gray said.

That was it for burns for the spring, as forests move into the green-up phase, Gray explained, but there are three burns identified for this fall and burns on the books every year going forward.

There is a 140-hectare burn planned for the Kimberley Nordic Area, which will be ignited by helicopter, a 60-hectare burn unit at Myrtle Mountain in the Kimberley Nature Park and then a 20-hectare unit where a fuel treatment experiment will be conducted at the mouth of Matthew Creek up the St. Mary Lake Road.


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