Roughly 20 Keremeos residents came out to the FireSmart training session in the village on June 26. Local FireSmart representative Brandy Maslowski is hoping more people will take interest. (Submitted)

FireSmart sessions take place in Keremeos

Local FireSmart representative hopes more people take interest in wildland fire prevention

Embers from wildfires are the biggest fire hazards to homes and properties in Keremeos.

That’s according to local FireSmart representative Brandy Maslowski, who delivered a Firesmart session to roughly 20 Keremeos residents on June 26.

“There’s sort of a myth out there that a wall of flame is going to take out Keremeos but the reality is that the embers from a wildfire are what can really cause the damage,” she said.

In Keremeos, she explained that homes are surrounded by orchards or dikes, which act as good fire breaks.

“It’s not likely a fire will sweep through and take out the town. The likelihood is that homes will be affected by embers from a forest fire that could travel one or two kilometres and land on the property.”

The focus of the session is to make the village safe from fires by encouraging residents to make their properties “ember safe.” She said if there is a wildfire in the area, properties and homes that don’t have any flammable materials will less likely burn if an ember lands.

“If you have a good roof, which means not a wood shingle roof, and you fire smart your property up to 10 metres, the statistics show that you have a 90 per cent chance of your home surviving a wildfire.”

Some of the FireSmart methods involve changing the vegetation and plants around homes and removing fire hazards.

“We talk about changing the conifer trees on their yard to deciduous trees or taking woodpiles or piles of brush or things that are flammable like furniture and things, take them in if there is a wildfire in your area. You know clear up your property so there is nothing flammable,” she said.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Three new fires sparked in the South Okanagan- Similkameen

As part of the session, Maslowski said forest fire experts looked at the community to determine where the risks are. While they concluded that the village was good shape to ward off wildfires, certain areas along Sykes Crescent, Vanderlinde Drive and Tweddle Street showed some risks. For example, she said there is a dike with some trees along it on Sykes Crescent and Vanderlinde Drive has a high quantity of ceder and the type of plants that are flammable.

“The main message we want to get out is why homes burn,” she said. “We want to break that barrier of forest becoming a fire in the home so it is really is as simple as if you don’t have anything flammable on your home, your home won’t burn down. If private residents do private work on their own properties, they can really make a difference.”

Later in the summer, Maslowski said a large demonstration on wildfire prevention methods will take place around one of the government buildings to show how to make the building fire safe. While the exact date has not yet been determined, she said it will likely take place at the end of July or beginning of August.

The money for the sessions come from a $50,000 grant funded by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, and administered by the Union of BC Municipalities.

For more information about wildfire prevention methods, see the website.

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