Smoke, no fire, says Forests District

  • Aug. 5, 2009 6:00 a.m.

By Alex Rinfret–There was smoke in the air over Queen Charlotte Monday and Tuesday, but no fire. Louis Bourcet, compliance and enforcement supervisor at the Haida Gwaii Forest District, said his office received several reports about a possible fire on Monday (Aug. 3). A helicopter was dispatched to search for the source of the haze, but found nothing. “We checked Long Arm and the Narrows,” Mr. Bourcet said. “All we found is lots of smoke, poor visibility, nothing that resembled a wildfire or a campfire.” The most likely explanation is that the smoke drifted here from forest fires in Alaska or the Yukon, he said, and then got stuck in the still air. Meanwhile, the fire hazard continued to climb after another week of high temperatures and no rain. All fires, including campfires, were banned in most areas of the islands. Lucy Stefanyk, Haida Gwaii area supervisor for BC Parks, said campfires were banned as of July 30 at the Misty Meadows campground and all day use areas in Naikoon Provincial Park. By Aug. 4, the ban had been extended to the Agate Beach campground, where conditions had been cooler and foggier than elsewhere on the islands, North Beach and East Beach. Ms Stefanyk said she expected that campfires would be banned in the Gray Bay campground at some point this week. “BC Parks is working with the Ministry of Forests office and assessing the situation on a regular basis,” she said. “We have wind and hot weather and we’ve gone an incredible amount of time without rain.” Ms Stefanyk said so far it seems that everyone is well aware of the danger and there have been no reports of fires. Gwaii Haanas issued a fire ban July 30 for the entire national park-reserve. The only fires allowed in the area are small ones below the high tide line for essential food cooking. Despite the hot weather, there is some logging going on in the interior of Graham Island and near the Narrows, Mr. Bourcet said. All loggers are working early shifts from 4 am until 1 pm, with a fire watch continuing until 3 pm after crews leave the bush. The logging company employees are the front line of defence against fire on Haida Gwaii, Mr. Bourcet said. All are trained in fire fighting and there are few other resources available to fight a fire, should one break out. While the islands may have fewer fire fighting resources than other areas of the province, they also have a lower risk of fires, Mr. Bourcet said.

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