FireSmart BC calling for videos, images of summer wildfires to bolster research

Wildfire videos wanted

Cindy White

FireSmart BC wants your videos and photos of this summer’s devastating wildfires in the Central Okanagan and Shuswap.

People are being asked to upload the images through the FireSmart website to be used as part of comprehensive post-fire research.

“My team is currently conducting post-fire examinations on some of the bigger incidents in B.C. that happened during the fire season in 2023,” explains Kelsey Winter, manager of wildfire operations research with F.P. Innovations, which is conducting the research on behalf of the BC FireSmart Committee and the Institute of Catastrophic Loss Reduction.

“What we’re looking for is any images or videos that capture fire, or embers or ignitions that occurred as a result of or in the timeframe of those significant wildfire in Kelowna and in the Shuswap,” adds Winter. “So, whether that’s a picture that someone takes on their phone once they’ve safely evacuated, or it’s a doorcam footage or video surveillance that they have from surveillance cameras on their property.”

She says one thing they’re looking at is how fire moved into a community, so the events of the night of Aug. 17, 2023 are especially important. That’s the night the McDougall Creek wildfire jumped Okanagan Lake and sparked new fires in the Clifton/Wilden areas of Kelowna and near Okanagan Centre in Lake Country.

“And not only how it moved into the community, but once it’s in the community, how it moves structure to structure," she said.

“So, why do you see some homes survive and other homes be burnt to the ground. And any pictures that we have and video that help paint that picture in the most complete way possible, really helps us have those recommendations that we can give back to the community afterwards.”

The findings will then help guide FireSmart programs, byt examining what are the most effective ways to reduce ignition and which are most likely to be undertaken by property owners.

So far, about 500 submissions from the Central Okanagan and Shuswap have been come in. While there is no deadline to send in your footage, Winter points out that the first report, with recommendations on how communities can better protect themselves from wildfires, is due in the spring of 2024.

F.P. Innovations has worked with FireSmart Canada since 2001 and in BC since 2017.

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