$5M to help protect homes from forest fires

THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - The provincial government has found $5 million to add to a program which is aimed at reducing the risk of wildfires in urban areas bordering on forests or grasslands.

The new cash will be handed out through the Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative to help local governments and First Nations pay for preventative projects like fuel removal and prescribed burns in the interface areas.

Forests minister and Kelowna MLA Steve Thomson says the money shows his government’s commitment to protect people from wildfire risks.

“It also highlights all of the crucial preventive work that's been done so far by communities around the province,” he says in a media release.

The Wildfire Prevention Initiative has provided $62 million dollars for wildfire protection since the program was established in 2004 following the devasting Okanagan Mountain Park wildfire the previous year. The interface fire forced the evacuation of about 27,000 people and destroyed 239 homes.

Governments must submit proposals to access the funds through a Union of B.C. Muncipalities website.

The province has also put together the Homeowner’s FireSmart Manual to help residents reduce the risk of damage to their private property.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Howard Alexander at halexander@infonews.ca or call 250-491-0331. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

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