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Hot dry weather likely to push fire risk to extreme.

Careful watch being kept on a local wildfire



The fire risk in Sea to Sky country was raised to extreme this week as hot dry weather continues for the region.

But, said provincial fire officer Starr Munro, there are no immediate plans to announce a backcountry ban like the one put in place here late last summer.

"At this point in time our resources aren’t being stretched to the point on the coast where we need to do that but it is always up for consideration," she said.

"We sit down multiple times a week and reevaluate burning bans and restrictions.

"The potential exists but it is not something we enjoy doing because it causes hassles for so many people."

Meanwhile, at press time firefighters were still standing guard over a wildfire near the resort.

The three-hectare blaze seemed to be under control this week but municipal leaders were keeping a close eye on the situation.

"Everybody is concerned in southern British Columbia," said Whistler Mayor Hugh O’Reilly.

The situation in the northern reaches of the Sea to Sky corridor is also complicated by the huge tracks of forest destroyed by the Mountain Pine Beetle. Its just tinder waiting to go up in flames said O’Reilly.

"This is an ongoing problem," he said. "There is no quick fix and the consultants have all told us this and so this is a problem we will face over many, many years."

The resort is working hard to educate locals and visitors alike to fire dangers such as smoking on trails or using mechanized equipment, such as ATV’s or motorcycles, in the backcountry.

O’Reilly said the resort is ready to respond and even held a mock fire emergency exercise last month.

"It is top of mind for every elected official," he said.

"Coordination, communication, preparedness are all under discussion but, you know, you can’t make it go away.

"We are just praying a little bit for some good luck too so that we don’t see what happened in Kelowna last summer happen here."

Last August wildfires near the Okanagan city forced thousands from their homes and razed more than 300 homes.

The Whistler fire on the south side of Wedge Mountain, about five kilometres from the backside of Blackcomb Mountain was first noticed last Sunday.

The smoke from the blaze even affected skiers and snowboarders taking part in camps on Blackcomb glacier.

Air tankers dropped water on the fire and Blackcomb Helicopters dropped buckets of water on the blaze to help contain it. Six fire fighters remained at the site of the fire at press time.