File photo.

Largest and closest fires to Kelowna in 2018 were man-made

Kelowna Fire Department still pushing FireSmart

With spring comes heat, and with heat comes the return of risk of forest fires in Kelowna, as well as in the entire Okanagan.

Last year, the two biggest man-made fires that were closest to the city were the fires at Yates Road on July 27, and the West Kelowna Fire at Mission Hill on May 26.

READ MORE: Grass fire appears under control near Mission Hill winery

READ MORE: Youths playing with lighter start Kelowna wildfire by accident

“It’s about a 50 per cent mark of man-made fires every year, and it has stayed steady throughout the years,” said Rick Euper, fire and life safety educator, fire inspector with Kelowna Fire Department.

“We have the FireSmart program to assist people. We do assessments of private homes, checking for fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, and we start seeing more assessment (requests) as spring comes in.”

READ MORE: 2 fires in Victoria caused by cigarettes prompts warning from deputy fire chief

BC Wildfire Services said that over the past 10 years, 40 per cent of fires have been man-made.

With programs like FireSmart, Euper said that communities are embracing the steps they need to take to make sure their homes, their neighbours’ homes and their community are best prepared for the likelihood of forest fires.

“It helps them realize what they need to do to make their home (and properties) safer,” he said.

“We’ve seen great improvement (in communities ) like Gallagher’s Golf Course. It’s all community driven, people going in and raking, and removing all the dead (flammable) stuff,” said Euper.

“They’re FireSmart recognized communities.”

More information can be found at Firesmartbc.ca.

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