Anarchist Mountain hot example of FireSmart

ANARCHIST MOUNTAIN, B.C. -Erwin Berg has spent the last three years removing branches off trees, building a rock wall and landscaping his property with gravel, all in an effort to reduce the risks associated with wildfires.

Berg lives in a densely forested neighbourhood on Anarchist Mountain near Osoyoos. He knows the dangers associated with interface fires.

In 2003, a massive wildfire swept through Anarchist Mountain. It burned 1,230 hectares and threatened lives and homes, and eventually destroyed two houses.

A scathing report says many interface communities are not prepared to deal with a wildfire and the results could be catastrophic.

However, the report also highlighted how homeowners on Anarchist Mountain have taken it upon themselves to make their properties safer.

“We take interface fires pretty seriously,” says Mark McKenney, the President of the Anarchist Mountain Community Society. “If you live in an area like Anarchist Mountain, the pine trees are extremely flammable in dry weather. People have to take care of their own precautions and ‘fire smarting’ is a great way to do that.”

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In 2013, a FireSmart committee was formed, helping people learn how to make their homes safer. An emergency communication system was also developed.

Now, about 40 per cent of homeowners in the neighbourhood are FireSmart.

Berg recognizes that changing his property is at times overwhelming, but the labour he does now could end up saving his home and many others.

“I’m a member of the volunteer fire department here. If a fire does come, I want to make sure it is as safe as possible so I can go out and help others,” says Berg.

There are no insurance benefits or government funding to make these modifications, but residents have a much greater motivation.

“The biggest incentive is the fire goes around your home instead of burning it down,” says McKenney.


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