Local wildfires spark public reminders

A local fire official blames lightning strikes for two spot fires that burnt in the hills of Garnett Valley Friday afternoon.

  • Jul. 12, 2011 9:00 a.m.

Hosing down. Captain Rick Leardo of the Summerland Fire Department mops up the remains of a wildfire that burnt Friday afternoon a small patch forest in the Garnett Valley area.

A local fire official blames lightning strikes for two spot fires  that burnt in the hills of Garnett Valley Friday afternoon.

Summerland Fire Chief Glenn Noble says lighting likely caused the fires, which sprung up Friday afternoon, following a lighting storm that had passed through the area the day before.

Crews responding to the fire told the Review that the lighting strikes had likely caused small smoldering fires that flared up as the temperature rose Friday.

The Summerland Fire Department as well as B.C. Forest Service responded to the fires, which did not seriously threaten human property or life as one of the fires burnt about two kilometres away from the nearest residence.

But the fires could be seen from Garnett Valley Road, reminding local residents that living in the Okanagan also means living with the threat of wildfires.

While recent days have seen a drop in temperatures, the early days of July saw  officials with the Wildfire Management Branch raise the fire danger rating for the South Okanagan to high. By deadline, it had dropped to moderate. But this change has not fundamentally changed the public message.

While Noble noted  that the firefighters cannot do much to prevent fires started by lightning, the public can mitigate the  general threat of wildfires by being cautious when they travel or recreate in the back-country.

Kayla Pepper, a fire information officer at the Kamloops Fire Centre, echoed this point in noting that the vast majority of fires reported thus far started through human actions.

”So all those fires could have been prevented,” she said. About 2,000 wildfires  occur in British Columbia each year, with humans said to be responsible for about half of them. Numbers, however, fluctuate from year to year. Consider 2009, when some 3,000 wildfires burnt across the province. They damaged almost 250,000 hectares, causing damages worth an estimated $382.1 million.


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