Thursday, December 4, 2014

Report warns of soaring risk of ‘mega-fires’ in British Columbia

Bethany Lindsay and Larry Pynn in the Vancouver Sun: As the planet heats up and the risk of “mega fires” rises, B.C. will no longer be able to lean on its world-class wildfire-fighting teams to keep people and property safe, according to a draft provincial document.

The Forests Ministry paper, called Climate Change Adaption Action Plan for Wildfire Management 2014-2024, suggests fire prevention should become the top priority of the province.

“It is not an option to continue to increase fire suppression response and associated costs, because even the most aggressive action would neither be safe nor effective for the extreme wildfire events such as those seen in Kelowna in 2003 and Slave Lake in 2010,” reads the draft, obtained through a freedom of information request.

“During these events, suppression response cannot be relied upon to protect communities or natural resource values. The only protection provided will be the protection established before the fire, provided through wildland-urban interface fuel reduction and landscape fire management.”

The document, dated last April, says the average temperature in B.C. is predicted to rise by four degrees by 2080. That warming trend, combined with the higher rate of wildfire spread in forests affected by the mountain pine beetle, means that “mega fires” will be increasingly common.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada has predicted that severe wildfires will happen at least 50 per cent more often by 2050....

Generic fire image by the US Fish and Wildlife Service

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