The old saying, "Where there's smoke, there's fire," is typically used in a figurative sense, but will carry a very literal meaning this week as the B.C. government begins carrying out controlled burns in the Pemberton Fire Zone.
The prescribed burns by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations were scheduled to begin, weather permitting, on Wednesday, May 7, running until the end of the month. The fire will cover 32 hectares located about two kilometres east of D'Arcy, near Pemberton.
Pemberton Fire Chief Russell Mack, who has toured the proposed site of the fires, said controlled burning is "a really worthwhile thing to do.
"The province should be doing a lot more of it, and I know it costs a lot of money, but if you prioritize the areas where you do (controlled burns) then it is really beneficial to the forest, to the wildlife and to the habitat," he said.
The prescribed fires will burn the forest understory, while leaving larger tress intact, according to a release, helping to restore open forest conditions and enhance berry production. Fires also discourage insect infestations and assist fire-adapted plant species to reproduce.
Smoke is expected to be visible around D'Arcy and Devine, as well as from the northern portion of Pemberton Portage Road. Trained wildfire crews will monitor the sites at all times. Mack said the ministry installed a weather station at the site of the fires last month for monitoring purposes.
The burns will only proceed if weather and site conditions allow for the quick dissipation of smoke and a low to moderate fire intensity.
The project is being carried out by the provincial Wildfire Management Branch, the N'Quatqua Band Council and the First Nations' Emergency Services Society of B.C., with funding provided by the Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative.