Crews and volunteers responded to a four-hectare wildfire on the lower half of the Aqam community lands near Cranbrook on Friday afternoon. Trevor Crawley photo.

Crews and volunteers responded to a four-hectare wildfire on the lower half of the Aqam community lands near Cranbrook on Friday afternoon. Trevor Crawley photo.

Wildfire season gets early start in the East Kootenay

Fire crews, volunteers respond to two local wildfires, while prescribed burns turn weekend skies smoky

Wildfire season has arrived early in the East Kootenay following some small fire events in the Cranbrook area, which were compounded by planned prescribed burns that produced a noticeable amount of smoke.

On Friday afternoon, a small four-hectare fire broke out on the lower half of the ʔaq̓am community lands, which was actioned by B.C. Wildfire Service crews and firefighters with the City of Cranbrook.

No structures or homes were damaged and residents who were initially evacuated were able to return to their properties, according to a statement from the ʔaq̓am office.

On Sunday, B.C. Wildfire Service crews and community volunteers responded to a fire in Bull River near the Kootenay Trout Hatchery. The 0.6-hectare fire, believed to be caused by a downed power line from a windstorm, sparked a small grassfire in between Fenwick Rd. and the Bull River.

It is being held as crews continued to work on it on Monday.

Two large prescribed burns also were completed in the region over the weekend.

A large plume of smoke was visible in the Kimberley area on Saturday, as BC Wildfire Service crews supported The Rocky Mountain Trench Society conduct a 320-hectare burn, while a 131-hectare ecosystem restoration burn also went ahead in the Quartz Lake area of Premier Lake Provincial Park.

Both prescribed burns produced large visible plumes of smoke in the region on Saturday.

Additional prescribed burns are also planned for an area around the Canadian Rockies International Airport as well as the Forest Crowne area near Kimberley, however, both have been postponed due to adverse weather conditions.

The Southeast Fire Centre is reminding the public to be careful with activities that could spark a wildfire. Grass and other fuels on the landscape have not had a chance to green up and may be dry and volatile.

Windy conditions and warmer temperatures can cause fires to get out of hand quickly, and most early spring wildfires are human-caused and entirely preventable.



trevor.crawley@cranbrooktownsman.com

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