Jeff Belcher “B.C. Wildfires: past and future”
by Andrew Bryant, 25 Apr 2019.
Jeff Belcher works for the BC Wildfire Service. He spent the first ten years working in the interior of the province out of Williams Lake and Alexis Creek. He grew up in Courtenay, so made the move to Powell River just over a year ago to be closer to home and enjoy the unbeatable coastal lifestyle.
Jeff’ spoke about the 2017/2018 wildfire seasons, with specific reference to “his” area, the Coastal Fire Centre (CFC). The thing that impressed me the most was the scale of things. We’re talking about huge areas of forests (almost 17 million hectares) and resources (210+ people) – not to mention aircraft, trucks, chainsaws, and other personnel drawn in from across the Province – or across Canada – or even from Australia or South Africa!
By comparison with other Fire Centres, the Coastal Fire Centre had a “quiet” 2018 season, with “only” 297 fires and ~150,000 hectares burned. The Northwest Fire Centre had fewer fires (150) but these burned an extraordinary 843,000 hectares. Equally impressive were the trends over time. In a word, they’re up.
Jeff provided some helpful links, for example to the B.C.’s FireSmart Program, which seeks to educate landowners about how best to protect their own properties. He also shared some fascinating graphics…some of the smoke you saw last August…may having been coming from Siberia!