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Delta hoping to reduce the risk of interface fires

The management of vegetation that can act as fuel for fires is seen as a key element to reducing the risks of wildfires
A 2016 fire at Burns Bog reached over 80 hectares and threatened the nearby Tilbury Industrial Park due to high winds. Subsequent fuel management measures were undertaken at the bog including thinning out of vegetation and trees in certain ‘high priority’ parcels. Delta Optimist file

Delta is taking proactive steps to implement its Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) to mitigate the risk of interface fires with homes.

That’s according to Fire Chief Guy McKintuck who made a presentation recently to council to update on measures completed or underway to get ready for what’s expected to be another dry summer and increased risk of wildfires.

Noting the extreme heat last summer prompted concerns by some residents about the potential for wildfires to start in interface areas such as Burns Bog, Watershed Park and the Huff Greenway, McKintuck outlined how the CWPP provides an assessment of the fire threat from forested and natural areas and identifies priority treatment areas and mitigation actions to reduce those risks.

“The management of fuel (vegetation) is a key element to reducing the risks of wildfires; however, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach and each site must be assessed and treated differently. For example, fuel management in Watershed Park is done strategically to minimize disruption to the natural ecosystem and retain the beauty of the forest, while at the same time, creating an environment in which wildfires would be more manageable and easier to put out. Staff have been focusing work on priority areas in Burns Bog, Watershed Park, and Huff Greenway,” his report to council explains.

A new information sheet is being sent to residents in interface areas with advice how they can also help reduce the risks on their own properties.

Two years ago, Delta and Tsawwassen First Nation (TFN) were awarded a joint grant of $60,000 from the UBCM Community Emergency Preparedness Fund - Extreme Heat Risk Mapping, Assessment, and Planning fund to undertake a study of heat risks across Delta and TFN.

The results of that study will help guide Delta’s response during extreme heat events, and help to implement heat mitigation and adaptation strategies, the report adds.

As far as the risk of fire in wooded areas, a contractor has undertaken treatment in Watershed Park due to the park’s size and proximity to residential neighbourhoods.

That project involved management of vegetation along pathways and roadways in and adjacent to the popular park, as well as focusing treatments on areas near the residential fence line to protect houses and on the areas surrounding the fire hall and Pinewood Elementary.

A similar project was carried out at Burns Bog.