Why smoke in November in the Interior is generally a good thing

Category three open burn permits are being conducted now to reduce wildfire risk by clearing the forest floor of debris that could feed a wildfire.

The smoke you're seeing now in the Thompson-Okanagan region may mean a lot less smoke next summer as wildfire mitigation efforts continue through open burning.

Haze that may be visible on the fine fall days in November is likely smoke from what B.C. Wildfire calls category three open burns.

Fire information officer Ryan Turcot says a category three burn is defined as larger than two metres in height and three metres wide, or three or more concurrently burning piles, even if the piles are smaller than that in size. A category three burn can also be windrow burning or a grass area larger than 0.02 ha in size.

Turcot says category three burns allow ranchers, loggers and other industry to burn excess fuels on the forest floor that would otherwise exacerbate a wildfire should one burn through the area.

Category three burns aren’t to be confused with prescribed burns, which the B.C. Wildfire often does this time of year. He says those fires are well publicized beforehand, and done for similar reasons.

The cooler and wetter conditions this time of year are ideally suited to the safe burning of stumps, branches tree roots, branches and other debris on the forest floor.

Category three fires are allowed in most areas, but rely on a favourable venting index before the permit can be activated to ensure the smoke doesn't build up along the valley floor making conditions miserable for residents.

Turcot says members of the public who are unsure of where or why they are seeing smoke can still call the wildfire line at 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on most cellular networks.

Anyone wishing to light a category three burn must obtain a burn registration number which is logged into the open fire tracking system along with details about the registered burn, he says. This system allows B.C. Wildfire Service to track regulated burning across B.C., manage firefighting resources and minimize false reports of wildfires.

The data is filed in reports, sharable by other firefighting agencies that detail all the active open fires in a specified area.

B.C. Wildfire Open Fire Tracking System map showing locations where category three burn locations have been permitted. NOTE: Fires are not burning simultaneously at all locations.
B.C. Wildfire Open Fire Tracking System map showing locations where category three burn locations have been permitted. NOTE: Fires are not burning simultaneously at all locations.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED

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