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Fire risk remains low

Spring rains, late snow keep fire risk down

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Despite record low snowpacks on Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast, the fire risk is now minimal in the Coastal Fire Centre.

According to information officer Sue Handel, the rain and snow in March and early April helped to avoid a repeat of last year where the fire risk was already rated high in the early spring.

"Put it this way, last year at this time we had 23 fires in the Coastal Fire Centre, this year there have been just 11, or less than half as many calls," said Handel.

"If the low snowpack had not been supplemented by the rain in March, I would guess that things would be a lot drier, but… in terms of wildfire danger there appears to be no major effects at all."

Things have also been quiet around the province. As of May 9 there were 66 wildfires in the province, all human caused. There have been 143 fires total this year as of April 1, burning 547 hectares.

Last week the Coastal Fire Centre completed training for a group of 145 firefighters, plus additional staff members for the 2005 fire season.

The Pemberton Fire Department answered one call in the area last week that was related to human activity, and dealt with by members. The Ministry of Forests also attended.

In Whistler, the municipality is engaged in a wide range of fire suppression activities, such as cutting down trees infested by pine beetles, purchasing a new foam truck built for wildfire suppression, training volunteers in the community to spot fire risks and handle emergency planning, testing forest thinning measures, and distributing the FireSmart manual to homeowners.

Whistler Fire Services is also in the process of drafting a community wildfire plan for release in June.

The Coastal Fire Centre is anticipating another dry summer for the coast. To check current fire conditions or get an online copy of FireSmart, visit www.for.gov.bc.ca/protect

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