Castlegar News Staff
It’s only March, but wildfire season has already begun.
On Monday, crews from the Castlegar-based Southeast Fire Centre responded to four new wildfires, all human-caused and therefore preventable.
Two were the result of poorly planned open burning:
• Wildfire crews supported local RCMP members and fire departments at a five-hectare grass fire near Lind Creek in Greenwood. One home in the area was temporarily evacuated.
• A 2.6-hectare fire just outside Baynes Lake was the result of industrial pile burning and the fire escaped into surrounding grassy areas.
An 11-hectare fire west of Highway 95A and a 15-hectare fire 10 kilometres north of Cranbrook were likely caused by recreational activities, such as ATVs or dirt bikes. Anyone riding an ATV or dirt bike should check the condition of the muffler, stay on dirt paths and avoid tall grasses and weeds.
Monday’s incidents are reminders for the public to remain vigilant with any recreational activities or open fires, and to ensure that they have contingency plans in place to extinguish any fire that may escape.
The recent unseasonably mild temperatures, spring-like conditions and low relative humidity in the Southeast Fire Centre have increased the wildfire risk in all snow-free areas.
Dried grass from last summer has not had the opportunity to renew itself due to cold overnight temperatures and so it is highly flammable.
Temperatures in the Kootenays are expected to hit record-breaking levels, ranging from the high teens up to 20 degrees.
Under the Wildfire Act, if an outdoor burn escapes and causes a forest fire, the person responsible may be held accountable for damages and fire suppression costs.