May 06, 2015 - 9:55 AM
VERNON - Predator Ridge has taken the initiative of becoming a FireSmart Community. This is a challenging undertaking—to say the least—but understandable when you look at what can happen when your community is unprepared.
The community of Slave Lake experienced a fire that destroyed 40 per cent of their town. In this excerpt from an article originally published in The Edmonton Journal on May 16, 2011, provincial wildfire information officer Rob Harris explained how events quickly escalated in Slave Lake and what the impact of a FireSmart plan — and the lack of one — can have in the event of a wildfire.
“They tried their best to try to build a guard between the fire and the Town of Slave Lake,” said Harris. “However, when the wind started picking up, what ends up happening, when we have these fires burning, is they start to spot. The fire is actually picking up burning debris and throwing it ahead of the fire front, so it jumped those lines that were in place.
“Firefighters were working to put out spot fires throughout the day. However, it just became too many and it was too formidable of a task.
“When it became apparent they were not going to be able to hold it, they recommended the town be evacuated as well, said Harris. “You have to remember things happened incredibly quickly. We’re talking about the course of an hour from that fire getting up and moving straight toward the town and things started to happen. In particular, jumping Highway 88 and Highway 2.”
Harris could not say if any clearing of trees had happened between the starting point of the fire and the town prior to this incident. The FireSmart program is supposed to reduce the risk of wildfires burning down homes and subdivisions by clearing away nearby trees and other flammable materials. Harris said that is the responsibility of each individual municipality.
Rather than standing by and hoping for the best, the Predator Ridge Community Emergency Management Committee is taking on the task of helping protect their community from wildfire. PRCEMC is hosting Wildfire Preparedness Day beginning at 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 9, at Predator Ridge (directions available at Predator Ridge Fire Hall). The event will feature a FireSmart information session by the B.C. Ministry of Forests Protection Branch, demonstrating the tasks that need to be performed as part of becoming a FireSmart Community.
PRCEMC has embraced the FireSmart concept of being prepared, knowing that preparedness is critical in diminishing the risk of any damage or threat to life that their community could experience as a result of a wildfire. They intend to build on the events of the day and hope to encourage other members of the community to FireSmart their properties.
To learn more about FireSmarting your community or your home, bring the whole family to Predator Ridge for Wildfire Preparedness Day. Also on May 9, Vernon Fire Rescue Services is welcoming the public to the grand opening of Fire Hall 3 at Predator Ridge from noon until 2 p.m., with a ribbon cutting at 1 p.m. VFRS will be providing tours, barbecued burgers and refreshments, as well as fire and life safety education.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015