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About 700 people were evacuated during the Rose Valley Fire of 2005. (Photo: Kelly Hayes - Castanet)
About 700 people were evacuated during the Rose Valley Fire of 2005. (Photo: Kelly Hayes - Castanet)

Interface fire risk heightened

by - Story: 37089

The risk of a large interface fire, similar to the 2003 Okanagan Mountain Park Fire, is greater now than it has ever been.

That according to Kelowna's Fire Chief during an Emergency Preparedness briefing to City Council Monday.

At the conclusion of his report, Councillor Norm Letnick, asked if fire, such as the fires of 2003, were still the number one threat.

"I would say interface fires are still the number one issue facing our community," says Fire Chief, Rene Blanleil.

"What was the hundred year fire is probably the 10 year fire..."

"What! Are you saying that (there could be) fire every 10 years?" interjected Letnick.

Blanleil added that's what the experts are saying.

"Global warming and its affects compounded with beetle kill that has intensified the fuel within the forest. If you have driven the Coquihalla recently, you can see we are all impacted by it."

He says Rose Valley flared up very quickly in 2005, and that, says Blanleil was a result of an unattended campfire in an area of beetle kill.

"So, yes, without question that's going to be the most severe threat that we're faced with."

Letnick asked what is being done to mitigate the threat of another major interface fire.

"We are trying to follow Fire Smart, we are trying to impose some development proposal recommendations with building materials and being able to do fuel mitigation and fuel modification."

Blanleil says they are getting that done with new development, however, he admits they are having some difficulty with private parcels and large properties.

"We are taking the right steps and measures, but like everything, it costs a fair amount of money for us to be able to do mitigation and fuel modification."

He says forestry did receive increases in crews, and have been doing their part in trying to alleviate the situation.

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