Teresa Titterington was the first volunteer to help clear debris from the forest floor in Little Mountain Park on Saturday, June 15. (Cameron Thomson/Salmon Arm Observer)

Salmon Arm residents learn how to protect properties from wildfire

Removing debris from forest floor can help stop fires from spreading

How not to provide fuel for wildfires was the overriding theme Saturday at Salmon Arm’s Little Mountain Park.

Salmon Arm held its first FireSmart Activity Day on June 15, where members of the Salmon Arm Fire Department and the FireSmart program demonstrated procedures that residents and business owners can use to protect properties from wildfire.

By removing fuel from the forest floor, destruction from wildfires can be significantly reduced.

Read more: June rain will tell if B.C. is in for another hot wildfire season

Read more: Some fire prohibitions to begin in Kamloops Fire Centre region

The crews on hand did not, however, remove the material by themselves.

Rapattack training groups from Salmon Arm’s Rapattack base visited the forested area near the tennis courts earlier in the week to cut down small trees that were either dead or considered to be debris. (Rapattack crews are those that can be called on to rappel from a helicopter when a wildfire is in an area difficult to access.)

Kevin Smith, a local FireSmart representative with Silvatech, was charged with leading a group of volunteers to help clean up the debris left behind.

“We’re really wanting to reduce the fire intensity. When a forest fire comes through, the more fuel there is the more intense it is, and the more intense the higher the flames are,” Smith said.

If the flames get too high, embers can be sent several kilometres away and start fires elsewhere.

“The FireSmart program is all about reducing the likelihood of home ignition. A home that doesn’t ignite, doesn’t burn,” Smith said.

Read more: Temperatures on the rise could cause wildfire risk

Read more: Crews battle human-caused wildfire on Squilax Mountain in Sorrento

Smith recommends that people do this for forested areas near their homes.

Teresa Titterington, the first volunteer to come help, had her reservations about the practice.

“I don’t quite agree with chopping trees down but I do understand why, it’s a bit of a compromise,” Titterington said.


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