Premier Horgan wants wildfire prevention modelled after Logan Lake's success story | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Premier Horgan wants wildfire prevention modelled after Logan Lake's success story

Premier John Horgan speaks at a press conference in Logan Lake, Friday, Aug. 27, 2021. The town escaped major damage from the Tremont Creek wildfire earlier this month.
August 27, 2021 - 3:42 PM

On his fly-in visit to Logan Lake, a town which narrowly escaped devastation from the Tremont Creek wildfire, the Premier John Horgan promised to propose budget changes which would be directed at fighting wildfires all year round, rather than only during fire season.

During today's, Aug. 27, press conference, the town of Logan Lake got some rain, washing away the ash from the wildfire which threatened the community.

Premier Horgan spoke at the Logan Lake fire hall after taking a helicopter flight over the region to view the wildfire devastation from above.

On his way to Logan Lake, Horgan's helicopter flew over the community of Monte Lake to view the devastation from the White Rock Lake wildfire, which he called "profound."

"These tours... are focussed on trying to ensure that government has the best understanding possible of the challenges that communities are facing," Horgan said.

READ MORE: Logan Lake has written the Fire Smart playbook for other cities, towns to follow

Increasingly difficult wildfire seasons in B.C. have the premier looking at changes for a more proactive approach to wildfires.

"We need to adapt and change how we approach these seasons and that's why we're talking about fire smart and the success story that is Logan Lake," he said. "The way we have fought fires in B.C. historically — going back many, many years — is a notional amount of money in the budget, and if you overspend that, you just find it through contingencies. And I don't believe that we should be putting our communities at risk based on contingencies."

The premier and Forest Minister Katrine Conroy want spending increased to focus on wildfire efforts with a year-round approach, Horgan said, as opposed to focussing spending and efforts to fight wildfires from June to September.

"If we have resources at the front end of the year, B.C. Wildfire Service can retain people to do the work to assist with fire smart, to make sure we're doing the best to create guards and other scenarios around those interface communities. And that's just got to be the way we go forward," Horgan said. "I've seen enough, quite frankly, of how we used to do it."

Horgan said he surveyed the Okanagan Indian Band with Chief Byron Louis to discuss rebuilding and Indigenous practices like prescribed burning, which can help lessen the severity of wildfires in B.C.

READ MORE: North Westside residents angry at lack of communication from fire officials

The premier was joined by firefighters from the local department and B.C. Wildfire Service, Logan Lake Mayor Robyn Smith and Minister of Forests Conroy.

"We want to reach out to communities right across the province to say this is a great example of what can work. We want to make sure that we're duplicating this across the province and that it's happening quickly," Conroy said. "It might take a few years, but it's well worth it."

The mayor of Logan Lake encouraged all communities interested in Logan Lake's longstanding efforts to fire smart the area to reach out to them with their questions.

"It's definitely been a lot of long, hard days for the municipality of Logan Lake," Mayor Smith said. "There was a lot of work done, even before my time. And that's not always politicians but leaders in the community... There's been a lot of people over the course of the last 18 years who have championed the different pieces of fire smart and what that looks like. We today are seeing the benefit of what that can do, and we are more than happy to share our story."

The Tremont Creek wildfire has scarred nearby hills and forests around the community of Logan Lake, but firefighter efforts and long term efforts to prevent wildfire devastation helped stop the blaze from reaching within the community and destroying homes.

"It was a lot of work, and it always will be. But there's people there that can help and you just take it off in small pieces," Smith said.

READ MORE: B.C. hasn’t seen COVID-19 case counts this high since April

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © iNFOnews, 2021

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