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B.C. wildfire season approaches amid coronavirus pandemic

Two helicopters monitoring wildfire conditions. Credit: Parks Canada — Rogier Gruys

The B.C. Wildfire Service is ramping up its spring training program as wildfire season approaches, but it will be a very different process than in past years due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“Instead of everybody coming into Merritt, where we felt like there was an increased risk of potential exposure, they’ll be trained in their placement locations in smaller groups in those various regions across the province.” B.C. Wildfire Service spokesperson Jody Lucius told CKNW on Mornings with Simi.

It’s still too early to predict what the fire season is going to look like, but Lucius says officials are receiving regular updates on the factors that typically come into play.

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“The challenging part for us is that things that really contribute to wildfire — things like lightning, any sort of extended heat wave, when we get the rain, how frequently, that kind of thing — we can’t predict that very far in advance. Unfortunately, no one can.”

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As summer approaches, the Wildfire Service is looking at how it can deliver its essential service in light of new concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“We’ve created what we’ve called an adaptation and continuity team and we’ve divided that into four different groups, and they’re all kind of focused on different areas of our business in order to assess the increased risk of exposure and what that means for our business,” Lucius explained.

More information on protecting property and wildfire preparedness can be found on the FireSmart B.C. website.

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