Two years after Williams Lake faced wildfire threats from many directions the City is ramping up its wildfire preparedness.
In April 2019, thanks to funding from Union of B.C. Municipalities Community Investment Program, a fuel mitigation and fire smarting plan got underway in Williams Lake this spring.
The plan includes fuel and vegetation management, FireSmart activities and education and further planning.
Ken Day of KDay Forestry Ltd., hired to manage the program, said 10 public buildings have been identified for assessment of Fire Smart status and a plan for completion of each one.
“We also have the funding to perform around 24 home assessments for citizens and will be identifying high-risk areas where these will be carried out,” Day said, adding there will also be work done on six areas around Williams Lake that are high priority for fuel reduction treatment.
Excess vegetation and fuel will be removed to reduce the effect of fire and increase the effectiveness and safety for firefighting efforts, Day said.
FireSmarting should be a community project and executed throughout neighbourhoods by neighbours themselves, Day said, noting the city is working with the Cariboo Regional District to defray tipping fees for FireSmart fuels arriving at the landfill.
A number of projects are scheduled for the City throughout the rest of 2019 and in the coming months residents can anticipate fuel reduction work will take place in an area off the Dairy Fields adjacent to Midnight Drive. Other specific locations include below the highway at Missioner Creek at the Mackenzie Avenue Connector on Highway 97 and in the Williams Lake River Valley below the hydro line.
“The main threat we’re working against is a wind-driven fire coming up Williams Creek valley and into the north end of the city,” Day said.
After the Williams Lake River Valley was identified as a primary threat following the 2017 wildfires with that work being tackled by the city, Day said coinciding work is also being done by the Williams Lake Community Forest adjacent to the power line, and by the ministry of forests on areas adjacent to the city.
“People are working together to set priorities and follow the treatments laid out in the community wildfire protection program,” he said.
“The wildfires of 2017 and 2018 have shown that forest fires have the ability to enter communities and cause severe damage. One of the best ways to mitigate this potential damage is through proactive fuel treatment and FireSmart activities on private and public property,” Mayor Walt Cobb said. “We need to take steps today to ensure that we are protected from the fires of tomorrow.”
As Fire Smarting activities continue throughout the City, the City will inform residents through its media channels where possible. For more information on FireSmart initiatives, see https://firesmartbc.ca/.
Day stressed residents think through the recommendations of FireSmartBC and how it applies to their properties in order to take steps at home to make their homes more secure.
– With files from the City of Williams Lake