With the recent Mount Christie wildfire still fresh in on the minds of Okanagan residents, the Penticton Fire Department is calling on homeowners to wildfire proof their houses, using the FireSmart app.
Fire Chief Larry Watkinson said there are some simple steps residents can take to protect their homes from wildfires.
“We want champions in the community who will take this initiative to heart and help spread the word,” said Watkinson. “Homes rarely burn down from wildfires. They burn down because of poor fire prevention management practices. We need homeowners to know about the risk of ember showers, which can travel up to two km and ignite your home. By educating those within our community to remove debris around their homes, we can prevent the spread of wildfire.”
One home in the Heritage Hills neighbourhood was destroyed in the Christie Mountain fire. The neighbourhood, containing 300 properties, was evacuated for some time while the blaze was out of control.
The wildfire, that started Aug. 18 and tripled in size within a day, is believed to be caused by lightning, stated BC Wildfire Service.
According to the FireSmart website, coniferous trees are highly flammable (evergreen trees with cones and needles, such as spruce, pine, cedar and fir). Deciduous (leafy) trees such as maple, poplar, aspen and birch are much less flammable. Evergreen trees with cones are highly flammable and should not be within 10 metres of your home, says the FireSmart website.
Residents are asked to check for ignition points in around the home and yard as well as pruning shrubs and removing all dead branches. De-limb trees up to two to three metres from the ground. If branches are hanging over the roof, trim them back.
Remove debris that is easily ignited by sparks and embers. This includes dead pine needles. Firewood piles should be at least 10 metres from your home.
According to the website, “if you’re replacing your roof, choose a Class A or fire-resistant product. Your roof is the most vulnerable part of your house in a wildfire because of its large size and its susceptibility to flying embers.”
The fire department is encouraging locals to download the FireSmart Begins at Home app from the Apple App Store or Google Play. This is a simple process that walks homeowners through a self-conducted home assessment.
If you don’t have access to the app, you can access all the relevant checklists and helpful tips at penticton.ca/firesmart or visit firesmartbc.ca for more resources on how to protect your family and property from wildfire.
Penticton is home to a growing number of FireSmart communities, which have been officially recognized and identified with an on-site plaque. This includes Sendero Canyon, Spiller Road, Juniper Drive and Riddle Road, with more in the works.