Logging debris should be cleared up sooner and trees taken to mills faster than called for in current regulations to reduce wildfire hazards, indicates a B.C. Forest Practices Board finding released today.
The board drew the conclusions after a member of a wildfire response team at the Shovel Lake fire last summer complained that he saw lots of debris and decked timber in the fire zone.
“He was concerned the materials contributed to the spread and severity of the fire,” the release stated.
During the investigation, a dozen cutblocks within the perimeter of the fire were examined to determine whether the forest licensees had met legal requirements to abate fire hazards.
“It was found that the licensees had either abated the hazards as required or the time period allowed for hazard abatement had not yet passed. In some cases the licensees were still actively logging when the fire swept through, so the decked logs and debris were consumed by the fire before the licensees had a chance to deal with the hazard,” read the release.
Kevin Kriese, chair of the Forest Practices Board said the investigation found that licensees had done what they were required to do.
He said even though logging will reduce the risk of fire in areas with a high fuel level caused by the mountain beetle, current requirements leave room for improvement.
“The investigation found that current requirements could be improved by reducing the time before abatement is required and reducing the amount of fuel left behind,” Kriese said.
“The BC Wildfire Service has established a working group to look at the current abatement strategy. The board is recommending that review include the length of time before the hazard has to be treated and the amount of fuels permitted to be left on-site after abatement,” he said, adding other considerations such as smoke biodiversity, carbon sequestration and silviculture requirements.