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Emerald couple prepared for wildfire season

Fire danger still not understood by most people



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Though more than half the fires happened in one particular neighbourhood, Hall said that’s a coincidence and the statistics don’t mean that people in Emerald have a higher chance of having a fire.

But for the new Emerald homeowners, those four fires have the couple on edge.

"This beautiful place we live in is so vulnerable," said Turberfield.

"If it burns to the ground there will be no beauty for several years.

"We make our livelihood from this resort. Who’s going to come here when it’s burnt?"

Last summer members of the fire department went door to door in Emerald, speaking to the residents about ways to make their homes safer from fires.

Their advice included clearing the brush lying around the house and cutting any low hanging branches that could spread a ground fire up into the trees.

The response from that campaign, which was done before the wildfires in Interior, was virtually nil said Hall.

This month the fire department will be tackling Alpine, armed with the new FireSmart brochure.

"One of the things we’re going to analyze is to see if we get more response from the people in Alpine using a new program, than we did in Emerald using the old program," said Hall.

"The other thing that’s happened of course is that we had the fires last year.… To be quite honest I think people’s views before we had the fires last year was that forestry had the capability of stopping any fire. And I think we know now that given the right conditions, forestry can’t stop every fire."

Turberfield certainly is well aware of that after her volunteer work last summer.

She remembers people in Kelowna lining up outside the evacuation centre, watching in horror and collectively gasping, as the flames jumped from one house to the next.

Their loss was almost tangible.

"You can feel the loss that people have suffered," she said.

The firefighters are also at risk from our careless acts she added.

"They’ve asked for our help and we’ve turned a blind eye and I think that’s unconscionable," said Turberfield.

FireSmart brochures are available at the fire hall in the village.

Inside the brochure there is a rating system to assess your home.

Members of the fire department are also more than willing to help people assess their homes.

"People can fill that in or we can come out and give them an assist with that," said Hall.