Government advises wildfire precautions 

Although it’s still winter in some parts of the province the 2004 wildfire season in B.C. has begun...

Although it’s still winter in some parts of the province the 2004 wildfire season in B.C. has begun with several small fires and four larger fires already being tracked by the Coastal Fire Centre. Homeowners should prepare for what experts believe will be another active wildfire season.

"As a homeowner, anything you can do to create a fuel-free barrier between the surrounding forest and your home will increase the chance that your home will survive a wildfire," said fire control officer Pat Hayes.

Some of the steps that homeowners can take to reduce the risk of interface fires – homes built next to forests – include:

• Landscaping with fire resistant vegetation and maintaining a 10-metre buffer of non-combustible materials around your home;

• Fire smart construction – metal roofing, non-combustible siding, closed-in decks and porches, and tempered or double pane glass windows – can all provide protection against wildfires.

The federal government has produced an illustrated guide titled FireSmart to help people make their homes safer. You can view it at www.partnersinprotection.ab.ca/downloads/.

The Coastal Fire Centre’s warnings come less than a week after a pair of researchers at the University of California at Santa Cruz published an article in New Scientist magazine predicting water shortages along the West Coast from Vancouver to Los Angeles.

The climate model created by Jacob Sewall and Cirbus Sloan examined what global climates might look like in 2050 if current warming trends continue. Many places could experience up to 30 per cent less rainfall annually.

According to an article in the Vancouver Sun, Vancouver is already experiencing a drought of sorts with just 10 per cent of its normal rainfall last August. April is already looking dry with just 1.2 millimetres falling in the first two weeks – the monthly average is 86.3mm.

Whistler suffered a record drought last year that resulted in the closure of government lands and construction sites due to an elevated fire risk.

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