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City of Kelowna working to prepare residents for the coming fire season

While the current wildfire risk is low, as higher temperatures reach the Okanagan Valley, the landscape begins to dry up. Global News

As the spring melt comes to pass, the City of Kelowna is turning its attention to another seasonal risk — wildfire.

While the current risk is low, as higher temperatures reach the Okanagan Valley, the landscape begins to dry out.

“As things dry up, the risks become elevated and it becomes more and more important to be aware and take precautions,” city staff said in a release.

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City staff say they’ve been working on several provincial and municipally funded projects to reduce fire risk.

“In 2020, the city’s Urban Forestry Department completed wildfire fuel mitigation on the east parcel of Knox Mountain Park, hundreds of hectares in South-East Kelowna as well as smaller projects on city-owned land and parks,” said Paul Johnson, the Kelowna Fire Department’s fire prevention officer.

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Johnson says the department will have up to 1,000 hectares of land mitigated for wildfire fuel by 2022.

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The Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) has been updated, according to the city.

The CWPP program was created in B.C. as a response to the devastating 2003 wildfire in Kelowna.

The city wants to remind residents that the Fire and Life Safety Bylaw is in effect.

The bylaw restricts open fires in Kelowna and no open burning is permitted with the city limits. This includes campfires, pizza ovens, fire pits and other wood-burning appliances.

Propane, natural gas and charcoal-fuelled appliances are allowed.

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The Kelowna Fire Department says it continues to educate residents about possible wildfire risks on properties using FireSmart guidelines.

“FireSmart is a national program designed to engage homeowners in voluntary wildfire mitigation activities by offering a professional home assessment with property-specific recommendations,” said city staff.

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Some tips from FireSmart:

  • Remove leaves, pine and debris from your roof.
  • Maintain a 1.5-metre non-combustible zone around your home and deck.
  • Mow grass and clear leaves and weeds within 10 metres of the house.
  • Move combustible toys, patio furniture cushions and potted plants within 10 metres of your home and deck.
  • Ensure propane tanks are 10 metres from structures.
  • If you have combustible fencing, clear vegetation and debris along both sides of the fence line.
  • Vegetation 10 to 30 metres from the home should be trimmed to remove the ladder fuels.
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