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Kamloops News

Crews prepare for more nature-caused wildfires

Helicopters drop water and retardant on the Spatsum Creek wildfire south of Ashcroft during the height of the fire.

KAMLOOPS - Nearly seven weeks after the initial call came in for the Spatsum Creek wildfire that consumed more than 1,400 hectares and forced evacuations of more than 100 residents near Ashcroft the fire continues to smoulder as crews work at mopping up hot spots.

B.C. Wildfire spokesperson Melissa Welsh says the fire is still under patrol and aerial scans are taking place weekly to identify hot spots. The amount of time the fire has been smouldering is typical though, she adds.

“If it appears fuels are extinguished at the surface level, it could still be burning underneath,” Welsh points out.

The Spatsum Creek fire is one of just 63 the wildfire office has responded to this year and all but three have been human-caused. The three naturally occurring fires this year have been a result of lightning in the past week or so and were quickly contained.

“Earlier on in our fire season we see a lot of person-caused fires,” she says, “but we'll probably see more of those naturally occurring wildfires heading into summer.”

In total 1,639 ha have burned in the Kamloops fire region, which covers much of the southern Interior. Only seven fires have been larger than 10 ha, including the most recent fire at Anarchist Mountain near Osoyoos which is at 50 ha as of this morning. The remaining 56 fires have averaged less than a hectare each in size.

The need to have crews available to handle natural fires is part of the reason a fire ban has been put in place for the Clearwater and Salmon Arm regions as well. The ban already in effect in the rest of the Kamloops Fire Centre will expand to include the two regions Saturday at noon.

“The date driven open burning prohibitions are to help prevent human caused fires. Given we are headed into the summer months and the camping season we want to remind the public to be vigilant with their fire use.” Welsh says.

She adds there were a number of instances where open burning got out of control earlier this year and the centre takes that into consideration alongside the fire danger rating when putting a prohibition in place.

The ban does not include smaller campfires or cooking stoves though if left unattended fines could be levied. Tickets start at $345 but could those found guilty of starting a wildfire could be responsible for all costs related to the fire. Cities and towns services by a fire department could have different restrictions in place and people are advised to be sure they not what the regulations are before burning.

To report a wildfire or unattended campfire call *5555 on your cell or 1-800-663-5555

To contact a reporter for this story, email, call (250)819-3723 or tweet @JennStahn.

News from © iNFOnews, 2013

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