Living in the Shuswap means… living with the risk of wildfire

CSRD FireSmart

Living in the Shuswap means… living with the risk of wildfire

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Living in the Shuswap means… living with the risk of wildfire

Our wildfire seasons are hot and generally dry, our topography is hilly and our surroundings are full of fuel in the form of coniferous trees. Although human-caused fires are preventable, wildfire is a natural phenomenon that we can reasonably expect to deal with, given where we live.

Despite the factors that lead to wildfire development and spread, generally the biggest threat to home loss are flammable items within 10 metres of your home. In a wildfire, embers can be thrown many kilometres from where the actual fire is burning.

These embers can be parts of trees, large cones, branches and bark that get pushed up into the air from the heat generated from the fire. In some cases, they are small bits of debris. In severe fires, they are much larger and result in an ember storm. Embers land or get blown into combustible items around your home and, in dry conditions, can create spot fires.

CSRD FireSmart
CSRD FireSmart

Walk around your home. Do you have cedar hedges or junipers? Are your roof gutters full of tree debris? Where is your firewood stored in the summer months? What other hazards lay in plain sight?

Coniferous trees and decorative bushes are some of the most flammable plants residents can have near their homes. Juniper bushes and cedar hedges are prevalent in most Shuswap neighborhoods. However, these bushes contain highly flammable oils that easily ignite.

Cedar hedges are often used as privacy fences and junipers make great ground cover, especially in steep areas. But the dangers far outweigh the benefits.

Often cedar hedges look nice, green and healthy on the outside, but if you pull back a few branches, you will likely find an accumulation of dead, brown debris inside. Juniper bushes are commonly referred by fire professionals as ‘green gas cans’ because of the way they burn. Both plants are excellent at catching embers that burn fast and hot.

We recommend you have no cedar or juniper bushes within 10 meters (30 ft) of your home. There are other, safer alternatives for privacy fences and ground cover.

Salmon Arm, Sicamous and the Columbia Shuswap Regional District all have resources available to residents who would like to learn more about how they can protect their homes in the event of a wildfire.

Walk around your home. Do you have cedar hedges or junipers? Are your roof gutters full of tree debris? Where is your firewood stored in the summer months? What other hazards lay in plain sight?

In neighborhoods where homes are closer together, we encourage neighbors to work together to reduce overlapping fuels.

To learn more about FireSmart or to request a free home assessment, visit your local municipality’s website or contact us via phone or email.

firesmart@salmonarm.ca

firesmart@csrd.bc.ca

firesmart@sicamous.ca