Although fire burning along the mountainsides is a cause for anxiety and fear for residents, some solace should be found in the fact that there isn’t a high fuel-load within the boundaries of Keremeos. (Joe Lebeau/Hashmark Photography)

Risk from wildfire within Keremeos low

A recent wildfire report states there isn’t much high intensity fuel within the village limits

Although coming off the heels of an intense few fire seasons in high elevations, the Village of Keremeos is at relatively low risk of a wildfire burning within its boundaries.

The Village of Keremeos recently received a 60-page Community Wildfire Protection Plan for the village and areas extending two kilometres outside.

Andy Low of Davies Wildfire Management Inc., who prepared the report, told councillors and a gallery of people at the recent council meeting that about 50 per cent of the area studied is considered non-fuel by technical standards.

“So, that would be cultivation (irrigated orchards, fields) water, urban areas, rock and 40 per cent is grass and then just a small per cent, 10 per cent, is actually trees,” he said,

During last year’s chaotic fire season, B.C. Wildfire reminded residents constantly of the geography of the area including the fact that a river separates the mountainside and the village.

Low also commented on a FireSmart program that was done in the Riparian Park (along the dike) neighbourhood. Neighbours in the area were concerned about the long grasses in the park and potential for them to catch on fire from embers from a high elevation wildfire or even from someone tossing a cigarette

“(There’s) always a possibility of tall grass catching on fire but the type of fire behaviour that that kind of fire would exhibit is low intensity but high rate of spread but it’s not like there is high load of fuel there to burn,” he said.

While working with residents in the area recommendations came forward to remove and cedar hedges, clean eavestroughs, and potentially make small fire breaks with rock or other material between the park and backyards among other suggestions.

“Just about the anxieties, you’re sort of in a tough spot as a community because you’re always going to see fire up on the hillsides, but fires that occur up in the trees, up on the mountain – that’s very different fire that you would see in grass, and, I think that when you’re in the thick of the fire season and you’re choking on smoke and your’e seeing this every day it makes you anxious,” Low said. “You really have to remember that’s different fire than what you would see down here.”

The village is also undergoing work to prepare an evacuation plan if needed in the future.

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