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Wildfires may be out, but they leave dangerous situations in backcountry

Fire dangers lurk in forest

The wildfires may be out – but they still pose a threat to those venturing into the backcountry.

The BC Forest Safety Council warns that summer wildfires and ongoing drought conditions are creating potentially dangerous situations.

Many parts of the province are experiencing severe drought and impacts from a catastrophic fire season. In particular, the northeast part of the province remains under Level 5 drought conditions.

The region experienced several very large wildfires, including the 619,000-hectare Donnie Creek fire.

During the winter, some wildfires will continue to smoulder and burn under the snow, which will create new and hidden hazards, some of which may not be obvious, the safety council says.

Fire reclamation work and salvage operations being conducted within or beside burned areas may expose workers and anyone venturing into those areas to hazards such as dangerous trees, ash pits and smoke.

"Due to smouldering fires, the root systems and stems of trees will continue to weaken throughout the winter, and the added weight of snow will increase the risk of trees falling unexpectedly," the safety council says.

"Burned or damaged tree root systems will be difficult to see under the snow, and these trees may fall even if no wind is present."

The Thompson-Okanagan has experienced several large wildfires over the past few years, and hazardous conditions can still exist years later, not just from fires of the past summer.



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