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Wildfire season is upon us

Cariboo Fire Centre Wildfire Management crew supervisor Michelle Beaudry (left), Matt Duran (right) and Trisha James (back left) conduct fuel management preventative work in the woods above the road to the Williams Lake Airport Wednesday afternoon.  - Monica Lamb-Yorski photo
Cariboo Fire Centre Wildfire Management crew supervisor Michelle Beaudry (left), Matt Duran (right) and Trisha James (back left) conduct fuel management preventative work in the woods above the road to the Williams Lake Airport Wednesday afternoon.
— image credit: Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Since April 1 Cariboo Fire Centre crews have responded to 19 wildfires, and almost all of them were due to careless fire use and were human caused.

“I don’t think people fully realize there is a fire risk right now,” Cariboo Fire Centre communications specialist Emily Koch said Wednesday, urging the public to use caution and pay attention to weather conditions when conducting open burns.

Fires have burned about 55 hectares in the region so far.

“As this week’s incidents demonstrate, almost all fires that start at this time of the year are human-caused and are therefore preventable,” Koch said.

Spring burning can present significant fire risks even though it may seem like a safe time to burn, she continued.

Moisture is present in the soil, but grasses can dry out quickly due to increasing temperatures and wind.

Fires that start in these fuels can spread very rapidly, especially when driven by wind.

Wildfire Management Branch crews have responded to all of the incidents, which have taken place at Toosey, Redstone, near Alexis Creek, Hanceville, and at Anahim Flats.

“We are coming into a long weekend and these incidents are a serious reminder to the public to be vigilant with any open fires and to ensure that they have contingency plans in place to extinguish fires that may escape,” Koch said.

To date five hydro poles have been burnt west of Williams Lake that will need replacing, confirmed BC Hydro spokesperson Doug Mosure on Wednesday.

“Last year there were a total of six throughout the entire fire season,” he said.

Koch, 24, is originally from Williams Lake and has worked at the fire centre for three years.

She was an operations assistant and dispatcher for two seasons and moved into the communications specialist position this year.

“It has a broader focus,” she said of her new position.

“I’m reporting to the fire management branch and connecting with the community with more of an organizational mandate.”

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