Though it’s still too early in the year for the main wildfire season and while there may still be snow in some spots in the South Cariboo, there have been a few small early fires nearby such as near Clinton, Lytton and in the Chilcotin.
It’s a good time to be mindful and exercise extra caution this year. For one, we simply don’t want to have to deal with the consequences of a wildfire during COVID-19. Having a whole bunch of firefighters from around the province travel to different rural communities would substantially increase the risk of COVID-19 spreading in the community. Especially in rural communities, where both access to health care and the capacity may be more limited, this is of concern.
Secondly, as many local residents can attest to, evacuating isn’t exactly a “fun” experience and doing so during a pandemic would undoubtedly add a whole different unpleasant dimension to the situation.
Finally, the smoke from wildfires could play a big impact across the province on those afflicted with COVID-19. In previous years, we’ve reported on the effect of smoke on people with respiratory challenges. Combining all of that together with the current situation means it’s an especially bad time to have to deal with a wildfire.
With all that being said, please don’t throw cigarettes out of the window, make sure that where you’re allowed to have campfires they’re well and proper out, use extra caution when operating equipment out in the dry grass or bush this summer and put some extra thought into your target practice locations and targets.
When you see a fire or smoke, make sure to call it in (1-800-663-555 or *5555 on a cell phone) instead of doing nothing or posting to social media and, do some wildfire risk reduction (FireSmart) on your property. Obviously, with burning bans now in effect, it’s not possible to burn piles, dead grass or other fuels. However, there’s still a number of other things you can do from cleaning gutters to removing low hanging branches, moving firewood and other flammable materials away from your house, adding screening vents to your attic and avoiding bark or pine needle mulches near your home.
While there may be a lot of downsides to the current situation, if we all act responsibly, 2020 could be a year with fewer human-caused wildfires than we’ve seen in a long time.