By Mila Lansdowne
With this shocking statement, Fire Chief Tim Lee and Alissia Sawicki (Wildland Urban Interface Committee) opened an informational session in the Public Library on Thursday August 21.
About 20 residents came to the Fire Safe meeting to get information on the current situation and learn about preventive measures to avoid harm to their homes and to the community. The risk of a wild-land fire has grown since the last wild fire in 2006.
The Pine Beatle attack on pine stands in and around Tumbler Ridge has created an area filled with forest fuel. Immediate action is needed. It starts right in our yards and the properties of our neighbors. There is no time to wait for government action when it goes to losing our assets and homes.
Although there is a Wildland Urban Interface Committee in place organizing funding and providing coordination and information, the situation calls for personal responsibility.
There are FireSmart Manuals available at the Fire Hall, and around town at other businesses and services.
Site preparation at your private property is key, and if the yard is not fire safe, it is a hazard to surrounding properties.
There are three basic zones that a property owner must prepare. The first 10 metress around the home are the most critical. Remove shrubs, trees, deadfall, and woodpiles from this area and keep your grass mowed and watered. 10 to 30 metres out from your home, remove debris, deadfall, thick shrubbery, and mature trees and space trees that the crowns are 3-6 metres apart (evergreens are more combustible than deciduous trees).
Prune the branches on the trees up to 2.5 metres high (fire travels upward).
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Please talk to your neighbor if there is help needed. A Fire Safe Plan for Tumbler Ridge is in place and the situation is under control if we use the time to prepare. The fire hazard is high and we all have to work together. At the Pioneer Loop, there will be 2.5ha of demonstration-forest developed. From there other areas in the interface zone need to be prepared. We have to manage 147 ha of community interface zone. However, in your yard the work is in your hands. Do not wait. If you need help, please contact Fire Department. There are sign up sheets for people who like to help. You can access the FireSmartManual online at http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/firecom/