The Northwest Fire Centre has warned that the potential for hotspots, or overwintering fires to emerge after last summer’s wildfires is very likely. One hotspot near Ootsa Lake released smoke in April and was later brought under control. (Black Press file photo)

Overwintering fires linger amid snowmelt

Despite the recent cool temperatures and melting snow leaving patches of wet ground, potential danger lurks in overwintering fires.

In the Burns Lake region, lingering hotspots from last summer’s Verdun, Nadina and Island Lake Fires that have smouldered underground during the winter present risks.

One such hotspot in the Nadina Fire Zone released smoke in early April near Ootsa Lake and a fire crew extinguished it.

LOOK BACK: Fire services respond to two smoke incidents

However, “due to the fire burning in a peat bog (wet area) it cannot be determined that this hotspot is completely out, as a result it will be monitored and is classified as under control,” Carolyn Bartos, fire information officer for the Northwest Fire Centre told Black Press.

“It does not pose a threat the community and there is no threat of spread.”

Elsewhere, the “potential for a hot spot to re-emerge from a 2018 fire is very likely,” Bartos said, adding that there is still a lot of fuel in areas that burned last summer south of Francois Lake.

“The BC Wildfire Service is conducting air monitoring flights and infra-red scanning of previous year fire perimeters to look for hot spots,” which are suppressed if necessary, she explained.

In the Telegraph Creek area four overwintering fires were found in April and brought under control.

READ MORE: Fires still burning near Telegraph Creek

Two additional initial attack crews – of three to four firefighters each – have been added for the Nadina Fire Zone, and are currently available to respond to any occurrences in the Northwest Fire Centre.

Burned areas recovering from fires often become the site of intense mushroom growth and Bartos said there are no restrictions on crown land in the Northwest Fire Centre for mushroom pickers.

However, she advised that people entering areas affected by wildfires be aware of the risks, such as fire-damaged trees that might fall down, unstable soils, potential for landslides and damaged trails.

Fire or smoke incidents can be reported to the BC Wildfire Service by calling *5555 or 1-800-663-5555.


Blair McBride
Multimedia reporter
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