Crews squelch forest fire near golf course two weeks ago

Andrew Bennett
By Andrew Bennett
September 1st, 2012

When this Tiger Creek forest fire started on Saturday, Aug. 18, above the golf course towards Violin Lake, the Telegraph staff were all out of town, but we recently got these photographs from Fire Warden Roly Worsfold.

Worsfold took the pictures from Golf Course Rd, looking out over the valley as one of three “Tracker” air tankers—converted crop dusters—dusted a perimeter of retardant around the fire.


“It’s basically fertilizer,” Worsfold said about the red retardant. “It’s nitrogen-based and not bad for the environment. The fire has a hard time breaking through the retardant line and it gives the crew enough time to get in there and get the fire down. Otherwise the fire might spread through the canopy.”


The BC Forest Service strategy of quickly identifying fires and an prompt initial attack—”getting ‘er out quick before she spreads,” as Worsfold put it—has been “very successful” in reducing fires across the province, he said.


Worsfold got the call early on Saturday morning from Dan Levesque, a Forest Officer from the BC Forest Service. They called in the three Trackers and a heliattack crew from Castlegar. Levesque and Worsfold coordinated the attack from the ground, communicating with radios.


Nearby powerlines added a layer of complexity to the operation, Worsfold noted, and the heliattack crew—a three person crew who can hover-exit into the fire, crawling off the skids—were very effective.


“It was a fast response and we had no issues later,” Worsfold said. The fire was completely under control by Saturday afternoon.


Don Mortimer, a local expert on forest fires and the project manager for Rossland’s Community Wildfire Protection Plan and Fire Smart programs, said this incident is a reminder to be “ever watchful.”


He felt the incident “validates” participation in fuel management programs on both municipal and private lands.


“Never let your guard down, even in a wet year,” he said. “Wildfire is something that can visit forested communities at any time, even in a relatively wet year like this, it can still start. And, given wind, it can travel.”

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