The BC Wildfire Service is advising East Kootenay residents about prescribed burns that may cause smoke in the region. Pictured is a past ecosystem restoration burn in the Cherry Creek area near Kimberley.

Regional News: Fire reintroduced to East Kootenay ecosystem

BC Wildfire Service crews can now focus their efforts on the proactive burning of selected areas

  • Sep. 23, 2015 11:00 a.m.

Fanny Bernard

BC Wildfire Service


With the hot summer months finally winding down, BC Wildfire Service crews can now focus their efforts on the proactive burning of selected areas in accordance with the long-term plan of enhancing native plant and animal life as well as creating conditions for more fire-resilient communities.

Historically, the Rocky Mountain Trench was an open valley bottom with very few trees present. Naturally-occurring low-intensity fires burned every five to seven years in the valley bottom, while more intense fires burned at about 20-year intervals at higher elevations.

Since the absence of wildfires in recent decades, many areas have become overgrown and no longer represent the natural attributes of this unique biological zone. By increasing canopy openings, controlled burns enhance plant habitat by allowing more areas to be exposed to sunlight and precipitation. Once native plants repopulate the area, many animal species such as mule deer, elk and sheep once again use these areas as foraging grounds.

The benefits of these planned ecosystem restoration burns are many, and include the improvement and rejuvenation of winter ranges for elk, deer and sheep. Reintroducing fire to this fire-dependant ecosystem ensures targeted trees will thrive while biodiversity is enhanced across the landscape. Low-to-moderate intensity prescribed fire also returns the area to its natural state.

In addition to the important role wildfire plays in maintaining biodiversity, its role in protecting communities from catastrophic wildfires cannot be overstated. This past summer alone, previously burned areas were a significant factor in the suppression of two interface fires within the Southeast Fire Centre.

The 21,823-hectare Stickpin Fire, which grew quickly towards Canada on August 13th and 14th due to strong and gusty southerly winds, was considerably slowed by the lack of available fuel once it reached the previously burned-out area.

Several of these prescribed ecosystem restoration projects are now awaiting suitable weather conditions in the East Kootenay area. Prescribed burns are only ignited when weather conditions are favorable and when the fire will not create excessive smoke. This is determined by carefully studying the venting index, temperature, humidity and wind conditions. The venting index is a measure of how quickly smoke will disperse under specific conditions.  Every effort will be made to notify the public as to the exact dates these burns will take place.

All prescribed burns must comply with the Environmental Management Act and the Open Burning Smoke Control Regulation. A prescribed burn is ignited and continuously monitored by trained firefighting crews to ensure the fire stays within established containment lines. In order to replicate the natural process of fire on the landscape, fires are allowed to self-extinguish, thus consuming the accumulated fuels.

For up-to-date information on the wildfire situation in B.C., please visit

The geographic locations of the prescribed ecosystem restoration burns planned for the East Kootenay are as follows:

• Raymond and Donald Creek — These areas, totalling 450 hectares in size, are located in the Galton Range. Smoke from this prescribed burn will be highly visible from Highway 93 and the communities of Jaffray, Baynes Lake, Koocanusa and Elko. Once ignited, this area will be allowed to burn, under supervision, until the winter.

• Wolf Creek — This 250-hectare planned burn is above Quartz Lake, in the Premier Provincial Park. Smoke will be visible from Wasa Lake and Highways 93 and 95.

• Estella Face — This 150-hectare area is south of Lazy Lake. Its smoke will be visible from several areas, including Wasa, Highways 93 and 95 and Ta Ta Creek.

• Burn Bottom — This 380-hectare scheduled burn is adjacent to the community of Kragmont, just outside of Baynes Lake. There has been previous slashing work done to this area. Smoke from this project will be visible from Highway 93 and the communities of Baynes Lake, Jaffray, Elko and surrounding areas.

Just Posted

The end of an Echo

Invermere Valley Echo shuts down operations in Columbia Valley

Creating a new narrative for Canal Flats

Economic development consultant hired, lists vision for next 90 days

UPDATE: Crews battle as wildfires rage in B.C. Interior

Crews brace for another day on B.C. firelines as no let up is likely

VIDEO: B.C. wildfires by the numbers

Wildfires continue to engulf regions of B.C.’s forests and communities.

VIDEO: More than 180 wildfires burning across B.C.

Firefighters from other provinces called in to assist

DTSS Grad March 2017

DTSS Grad March 2017

59 cats seized in Chase

59 neglected and injured cats were seized from a property in Chase

Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell dead at age 52

The singer/songwriter passed away early Thursday morning in Detroit

Paying tribute to a primeval passage

Uninterrupted celebrates the Adams River sockeye run in an extraordinary way.

UPDATE: Pemberton Music Festival cancelled, no automatic refunds

In the past, the music festival located in Pemberton drew large crowds last year of 180,000 fans

Medical wait times cost B.C. patients $2,300 each

New Fraser Institute report places B.C. at second worst in costs associated with long wait times

UPDATE: 22 killed at Ariana Grande concert

Witnesses reported hearing two loud bangs coming from near the arena’s bars at about 10:35 p.m.

One in three Canadian high school students have rode with drinking drivers, study reveals

Nearly one in five rode with a driver who’d been smoking pot

Top court to hear federal government’s appeal on residential school records

A lower court judge ruled to destroy the stories after 15 years unless consent is given to preserve

Most Read