Compared to 2010, this year should be a quieter fire season because of the cooler and wetter spring.
Making a presentation to city council Tuesday, Cariboo Fire Centre manager Darrell Orosz said to date there have been 48 fires burning 239 hectares. About 100 of those hectares burned during one fire.
The 2012 statistics are low compared to the 10-year average, which would see around 94 fires burning 1,144 hectares by this time of the year.
Numbers in themselves don’t tell you a lot, Orosz said. It’s the damage caused by fires that’s the main concern.
“Truthfully we have not damaged anything so far this year. It’s all been grassland and a little bit of dead pine, but generally it’s been an enhancement.”
Looking toward the rest of the season, the forecast is for an average summer, nothing like 2010.
“We will get lightning storms, but they will be wet. In 2010 we had dry lightening.”
As a result, fire crews from the Cariboo will travel to assist with fires in other provinces, and will work on fuel management at home, sometimes in collaboration with the Cariboo Regional District.
In recent years sites on Fox Mountain, above White Road, in Boitanio Park, at the Dairy Fields and Crown land within the city have been targeted for fuel mitigation.
However, Orosz said the work doesn’t escape controversy.
“For every person who thinks we should be cutting down trees, there’s someone who says we shouldn’t.”
One of the most successful results of recent years is Alexis Creek.
“We had proof that in 2010, the fuel management work actually stopped the fire. As the fire came across, we were on site.
We had real time photos as well as information. We documented two fires in B.C. — the one at Alexis Creek, the other was in Kelowna. Alexis Creek did not lose any structures because of that previous treatment.”
Currently crews are doing mitigation at Chilcotin Estates Mobile Home Park, at the mini golf area, and at Westridge, and carrying out archaelogical research in anticipation of doing work at the airport.
“We’re always looking for areas that we can clear out in advance,” Orosz said. “Arsonists and opportunists like to be within about 20 feet of a road, throw a cigarette lighter or match and run.”