Smoke visible near Houston and surrounding areas. (Houston Today file photo)
Smoke visible near Houston from slash burning last year. More is taking place over the next two months. (File photo/Houston Today)

Smoke visible near Houston and surrounding areas. (Houston Today file photo) Smoke visible near Houston from slash burning last year. More is taking place over the next two months. (File photo/Houston Today)

Debris burning underway near Houston

Part of ongoing plan to create a fire break

Crews are out this week at the start of a two-month project to burn piled up wood debris along the Morice River Road and Peacock Forest Service Road to create a fire break to help protect the community by ridding the area of fuels.

A District of Houston release of today said residents can expect to see smoke along the two roads approximately 7.5 kilometres southwest of Houston beginning April 4 and lasting until May 31.

The area was identified years ago as one which posed a danger to the community should winds blowing through that area drive a fire toward the community.

Prior to this burning, the area was logged to begin to remove fuels and numerous ways were found to utilize wood that might otherwise have been burned.

“Additionally, the fuel break will improve the chances that BC Wildfire Service employees will be able to successfully defend the community against wildfire and increase safety for firefighters on the ground,” the release said.

“The project lead has taken exceptional measures to ensure material left over from harvesting mature trees is utilized. Engagement took place with two local sawmills, the pellet plant, a fence post manufacturer, a commercial firewood processor, a pulp mill in Prince George as well as allowing the public access for personal firewood,” the release continued.

“However, there is still material which is unsuitable for use in manufactured forest products consisting of treetops, branches, stems, and rotted deciduous stands. The prescribed fire will remove the remaining woody debris that, if left on the ground, would continue to provide fuel for a potential wildfire.”

A $1 million grant from the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. several years ago is providing the money for the project and Protech Forest Resources of Telkwa has been contracted to manage the project in conjunction with the BC Wildfire Service.

The District is encouraging people who may be affected by smoke to take a series of measures including

– Contacting Health Link BC by dialing 8-1-1 if experiencing difficulty in breathing, chest pain or discomfort, sudden onset of a cough, or irritation of airways;

– Using a portable air cleaner to filter the air in one area of a home;

– Avoiding strenuous outdoor activities and remaining indoors; and

– Drinking lots of water to help reduce inflammation.