The annual fire watch in Canada’s forested lands is upon us. Fort McMurray is still rebuilding two years after its devastating wildfires. In the meantime, Friday July 7 marks the one-year anniversary of the B.C. wildfires – that day a two-hectare wildfire began west of 100 Mile House B.C. kicking off BC’s record-breaking season. This year, there are 170 fires burning across B.C., 10 times more than the same time last year. Meanwhile, south of the border, wildfires are ripping through California, Colorado, New Mexico and other Western states and emptying out entire neighbourhoods.
Canada has a history of wildfires going back centuries including the Great Fire of 1852 which destroyed half of Montreal’s housing and left 10,000 people homeless, and the Great Miramichi Fire that devastated forests and communities throughout New Brunswick in 1825 (ranking it among the three largest forest fires ever recorded in North America).
More recently, FirstOnSite Restoration has been on the frontlines of some of the country’s largest forest fires, including last years B.C. wildfires and the 2011 Slave Lake, Alberta wildfire, in which one-third of the town was destroyed. It was also one of the earliest responders on scene after the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfires, the largest wildfire evacuation in Alberta’s history and the costliest disaster in Canadian history.
Fires are a natural part of the forest ecosystems in Canada. The burning recycles nutrients and improves the habitat for animals. It is also good for trees in the long run. It clears the forest floor of debris allowing existing trees to grow stronger and healthier. However, fires can also be devastating to those located near a wildfire-prone zone. Perennially, they pose a significant risk to communities and business located close to forests. Based on lessons learned over the past decade, here are FirstOnSite Restoration’s 10 ways that residents and business owners can protect their property from a wildfire:
Create a 10-metre defensible space around your property
Make your roof fire-resistant and clear away gutter debris
Keep embers out
Remove close by coniferous trees
Prune your trees
Keep your lawn mowed
Create a “bug-out” bag and an action/evacuation plan. Click here for full description
Find a “fire-resistant zone” near your home
Work with your neighbours
Ensure you have adequate insurance coverage
Source: FirstOnSite Restoration, https://www.firstonsite.ca/