Forest Fire Prevention is the Key to a Safe and Fun Summer!
The beautiful Alberni Valley is widely known as the warmest spot on Vancouver Island. Warm summer weather brings many visitors and locals looking to enjoy some of their favourite outdoor activities and events. Typically July and August are our hottest months and often a lack of steady rainfall. Without any precipitation, many of our beautiful forests will be dry and vulnerable to wildfire.
Wildfires: Balancing the Good and the Bad
Wildfires, especially those caused by humans, can be a powerful and destructive force, causing vast amounts of damage to our ecological systems and even threaten the communities we live in. But when they occur naturally, wildfires are also a part of a forest’s natural ecosystem, promoting diversity and strengthening the overall health of a forest (source). However, where communities and forests are in close proximity there will always be an increased risk factor of wildfire to both the community and the forest.
- Canada has about 9% of the world’s forests
- The total area burned by wildfires varies widely from year to year, but averages about 2.5 million hectares annually
- The largest single wildfire on record is the Chinchaga Fire occurring on June 1, 1950 in British Columbia and Alberta. It took 5 months to extinguish and burned more than 1.4 million hectares of forest
- In 2022 there were 1,758 wildfires in British Columbia, 321 in the Coastal Region
- There have been 66 wildfire occurrences in the Coastal Region since April 1st, 2023
- 6 of the last 10 years, the national annual cost for wildfire prevention has exceeded $1 billion
- In 2022 British Columbia wildfires caused an estimated $321 million in damages
- Wildfire exposure can cause a number of health issues including: headaches, nausea and nose, throat and sinus irritation. In extreme cases, a stroke or heart attack may occur.
- Children, Seniors and those with preexisting heart or lung conditions are most at risk
Be Wildfire Ready with Firesmart BC and the CWPP
Unfortunately many wildfires are caused by human interaction. An estimated 32% of all BC wildfires for the 2022 season were human-caused. Learning how to be safe is the key to preventing any unnecessary risk of a wildfire. “Be Wildfire Ready” is a great resource recently created by the Province and is a perfect place to start learning about what you can do, not only for a wildfire but any emergency.
Source: Be Wildfire Ready BC
Keeping track of wildfires is one way to stay on top of fire safety. The BC Wildlife Service provides an interactive map of all the current wildfires in the province.
Firesmart BC is a program designed to help keep our homes, communities and businesses safe from damages caused by wildfires. It is based on these 7 disciplines:
- Legislation & Planning
- Development Considerations
- Vegetation Management
- Emergency Planning
- Inter-agency cooperation
The Firesmart BC Homeowners Guide is a free resource created to help educate and inform homeowners on how to prepare for a wildfire emergency.
As well the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District’s (ACRD) Emergency Plan developed the Community Wildlife Prevention Plan (CWPP) in 2019 with the goal of helping identify community risk levels and helping to mitigate them.
With these key resources we can make an immediate and meaningful impact this wildfire season.