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Fire hazard simmering at extreme

All fires banned on south coast, no power tools within 10 metres of forest

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Whistler Blackcomb is taking the extreme rating seriously, and has charged all of the snowmaking cannons and made its hoses available in case of a fire. As well, all mountain staff have been trained in fire suppression, and are ready to respond to any fire reports on Whistler and Blackcomb.

There is also a blanket smoking ban in effect, with signs going up on Wednesday to inform the public of the fire risk.

Rob McSkimming, vice president of business development, said the extreme rating will affect some new trail construction in the bike park but also presented an opportunity to improve existing trails.

"There is no equipment or chainsaws in the forest right now, so yeah, it certainly affects a few things we were working," he said. "We're still able to work on the dual (slalom) course and the Boneyard, but we're also looking at this as a chance to do some more maintenance. There are some projects we would prefer to be working on, but getting out and maintaining the stuff we have up high and in the open is also something we need to get to, especially since it's been so dry."

Alice Lake fire controlled

On July 20 at 7:19 p.m. the Squamish Fire Rescue service received a call of a fire burning just 1 km away from the Alice Lake campground. Fire crews attended the scene immediately with eight members, bolstered by 10 from the B.C. Coastal Fire Service and two helicopters with water buckets. A water bomber was also called in but was not pressed into action.

The park remained open, but the RCMP were called in to evacuate the campground if the fire showed any sign of spreading. The campground was almost full.

The fire measured 0.7 hectares at its largest. Crews thought it was under control on Monday night, but it flared up again on Tuesday. It was quickly brought under control once again and by the afternoon crews were dealing with a handful of hot spots.

The fire was located in a logging cutblock, and human activity is suspected because of the proximity to local trails.

• Up until July 20, there was just 2.8 mm of rainfall reported in Whistler for the month. In July of 2008 there was roughly 21 mm of rain, although almost half of it fell in one day towards the end of the month.