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RDEK getting ready for wildfire season

The Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) is getting ready for what could be an intense wildfire season.

Board Chair Rob Gay said conditions are laying the groundwork for a potentially busy season for fire departments.

“Our indication is that we’re heading into things with a level four drought, which we haven’t seen before,” said Gay.

“Some of the municipalities are already starting wanted restrictions, and it’s a little early for that.”

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Gay said next month’s weather could set the stage for what may come.

“If we can get some June rains, it kind of buys us some time in July,” said Gay.

“If we don’t get that June rain, July, August and September can be quite busy.”

Structure fires are a particular area of concern.

“Previously, a lot of the fires were in the woods and backcountry. Yes, we were losing timber, but homes and human lives weren’t in danger,” said Gay. “Now a lot of us have built our homes in the woods, so we have a different level we need to be cautious of.”

The RDEK’s emergency management will be at the ready if needed.

Gay said their emergency operations centre works in partnership with local governments.

“When we have emergencies, we’ll have people come in and work in our regional emergency operations centre to help,” said Gay. “Through that, we’ll take charge of the emergency and help people with whatever they may need. It puts all the skills in one place.”

This is a model that is being replicated around B.C.

“The province has changed some legislation that kind of follows our model, which is a very regional, partnership model,” said Gay.

“This system where we work with First Nations and local governments seems to be where the future is in emergency management because there are so many pieces and so many people you need to notify.”


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