By Andrew Mitchell
Despite a cold and wet spring the fire hazard for the Coastal Fire Centre, which includes Whistler and Sea to Sky, is now rated at high heading into the Canada Day/Independence Day long weekend.
A high rating means no campfires are allowed, and that contractors working in the interface forest may encounter work restrictions. The public barbecues remain at Whistler’s parks but could be removed if the hazard rating edges up to extreme.
“If this heat continues those fours (high rating) will probably change to fives (extreme),” Chief Bruce Hall of Whistler Fire Services said Monday.
“If tomorrow is the same (high) rating we’ll be letting contractors know if they’re working in the interface, they’ll have to shut down by one o’clock in the afternoon. If the risk goes to extreme and stays there three days in a row, they have to shut down in the interface area.”
Whistler Fire Services goes by B.C. Forest Service regulations regarding closures and any additional steps taken to mitigate the fire risk.
According to Hall, what’s interesting this year is how quickly the hazard rating has climbed.
“We really need to emphasize to people, when they’re out in the bush, to be careful out there,” he said.
While things have been quiet so far in the Coastal Fire Centre, Interior fire centres are already busy. Since the beginning of April, crews have battled over 50 fires larger than 10 hectares in size. Nine fires were active as of Monday, and one fire at Gataga Lake has consumed an estimated 2,600 hectares of forest.