Tag Archives: BC Wildfire Service

#1: Cortes Fire Department Preparing For The Worst Case Scenario

The Cortes Island Fire Department is preparing for what could be the driest summer on record. They have purchased more equipment, a new pumper truck, and are about to start recruiting for a much larger wildfire brigade. After a year and a half as the interim Fire Chief, Eli McKenty may be staying on. This was not the story Cortes Currents expected to cover. An open fire prohibition came into effect at noon on Friday, May 17.

They were flushing water through one of the trucks in the front yard, when I arrived. Chief McKenty took me up to the office where it was quieter. There are two other desks there. BC Emergency Health Services Unit Chief Kim Robertson was away, but Office Manager Tammy Allwork was working on her computer. Their work spaces were meticulously laid out, with everything in its place. A few books and papers were sprawled across McKenty’s desk.

Continue reading #1: Cortes Fire Department Preparing For The Worst Case Scenario

Province takes action earlier than ever for what could be a difficult wildfire season

Editor’s note: While there have been small fires on Quadra, Sonora and Read Islands in recent years, there have not been any significant wildfires in our area for decades. More than 330 acres went up in smoke during the Gorge Harbour Fire of 1932, but there has not been any Cortes Island fires more than 25 acres in extent since at least 1950. Half of Quadra Island was consumed in that island’s 1925 fire. Environmental scientist Ruth Waldick believes the great clearcuts in the Interior of BC made it possible for megafires to consume that area and they will not occur in the islands. Others fear that as droughts become more frequent and severe, our area may once again experience a megafire.

By Alexandra Mehl, Ha-Shilth-Sa, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The province is preparing, earlier than ever, for what could be a challenging wildfire season with above-average fall and winter temperatures predicted to continue, leading to persistent drought and a lack of snowpack accumulation.

“It is no secret that we did not accumulate the snowpack that we were hoping for in main parts of the province,” said Bowinn Ma, B.C.’s minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness. “While we all hope to get more rain in the months ahead, we are taking action now to prepare for what could be a very challenging season.”

Continue reading Province takes action earlier than ever for what could be a difficult wildfire season

Northern B.C. preparing wildfire resilience plans in face of severe drought

Editor’s note: As of 7:20 AM on Tuesday, January 30, 2024 – the BC Wildfire Service Wildfires Map shows 91 active wildfires. None of them are in our area. The closest are three fires about 300 kilometres to the northeast in the Coldstream Creek area of the Cariboo. Beyond that: all the fires appear to be in the northeast quarter of BC.

There have not been any major fires in our area in recent decades. The largest known fire on Cortes was in Gorge Harbour during 1932. More than half of Quadra Island was consumed by fire in 1925, but the vast majority of fires since then are less than 4 hectares in extent. This may change as the summers continue to get drier. According to CleanBC, “Climate change is causing more frequent and severe wildfires, floods and extreme heat events across B.C.”

By Tom Summer, Alaska Highway News, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

With fire still burning in Northern B.C., the Peace River Regional District has begun development of community wildfire resilience plans for their four electoral areas, mapping wildfire risk and identifying high flammability areas. 

Continue reading Northern B.C. preparing wildfire resilience plans in face of severe drought

BC Legislators in the hot seat to respond to a firefighting crisis

Editor’s note: While there has not been a major fire on Cortes or Quadra Islands for decades, this could change as climate impacts grow stronger. I also think every British Columbian should be concerned when firefighters say ‘the wildfire system is in crisis’ and without ‘significant investments’ and ‘critical restructuring … will not be able to meet the demands of the coming wildfire season.’

By Sidney Coles, Capital Daily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Members of the British Columbia General Employees Union (BCGEU) went to the BC Legislature on Tuesday to meet with MLAs to lobby for transformational investments they hope will enhance public safety and make it easier for them to recruit and retain members.

Continue reading BC Legislators in the hot seat to respond to a firefighting crisis

Preparing for a wildfire: the Cortes Island Fire Department

There have been large wildfires on Cortes Island in the distant past. The largest shown in the 2011 Wildfire protection plan was more than 330 acres in extent, and there were two fires that burned close to 250 acres. Those were in 1932, 1924 and 1923, respectively. There hasn’t been a fire larger than 10 hectares since at least 1950

This could change, as our summers become warmer and dryer. 

Last week Premier Eby declared a state of emergency in face of the worst wildfire season in BC’s history. 

While there are no major fires in our immediate vicinity, the BC Wildfire service says, “We are in a drought condition. Our forest fire fuels are very dry and the ignition potential is extremely high.” So Cortes Currents asked interim Fire Chief Eli McKenty what the situation is like on Cortes Island.

Continue reading Preparing for a wildfire: the Cortes Island Fire Department