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Investigation into British Columbia's response to the fires ;forêt | Wildfires 2023

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Jim Cooperman, a resident of Lee Creek, in the south of interior British Columbia, said almost all of his land is now reduced to ashes.

The Canadian Press

British Columbia's independent forest watchdog is investigating the province's response to wildfires that wreaked havoc on the shores of Shuswap Lake last August, destroying or damaging more than 200 properties.

A statement from the Forest Practices Board released Friday said an investigation was undertaken after receiving a complaint regarding the province's forest fire service, BC Wildfire, using a prescribed burning to reduce forest fuels between populated areas.

At the time this fire was ignited, on August 17, both wildfires Lower East Adams Lake and Bush Creek were gradually moving toward the north shore of Shuswap Lake after being declared about five weeks earlier.

Investigators will visit this area this month near Lee Creek and Scotch Creek in British Columbia's southern interior.

Jim Cooperman, a resident of Lee Creek, says he filed a complaint with this organization alleging gross negligence on the part of BC Wildfire in carrying out the planned burn just beyond the power lines, about two kilometers from his home.

Wildfires 2023

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Jim Cooperman says he is convinced this is the planned fire , not the forest fires themselves, which raced downhill on August 18, fanned by strong winds.

The flames eventually stopped about 50 feet from the back of his house, on the property where Mr. Cooperman said he has lived since 1969.

Our property is nothing but ashes and burnt branches. It's very difficult for us, he testified.

Jim Cooperman says one of his neighbors, who works for BC Wildfire, was home listening to his employer's radio during the fire. This neighbor recently told him what he heard on the radio.

At 5 p.m. we saw a giant cloud of smoke just above our house. And then at 7 p.m., on the radio, they told everyone that the fire had spread and gone through the firewall, Jim Cooperman said, describing the area cleared to make way for the power lines.

They knew from 7 p.m. that it was a failure, and yet they told the public that it was a success, he said Friday in an interview with The Canadian Press.

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Part of the burned area near the power lines.

A release from the provincial Ministry of Forests says BC Wildfire welcomes the Forest Practices Board's review as an independent and recognized third party.

The Southern flank of the Lower East Adams Lake wildfire was already burning within 1 mile of the power lines, according to the department.

The goal [of the prescribed burn] was not to contain the wildfire but to reduce its intensity and give a greater chance of survival to any structures in its projected path. […] While we know that the extreme conditions of the day resulted in a significant loss of structures, we know that prescribed burning was successful in saving structures at Lee Creek.

A quote from Excerpt from the press release of the provincial Ministry of Forests

Jim Cooperman points out that power lines meant to act as firebreaks were surrounded by dead brush and became fuel for the flames.

A bulletin issued by the Regional District of Columbia Shuswap at 8:30 p.m. on the day of the planned burn indicates that the operation was successful.

Aerial lighting of approximately 26 square kilometers was carried out along the power line in northern Shuswap, creating a significant guard line, it says.

The fire in the ignition zone will now burn safely up to guards while being monitored by crews who will patrol along power lines, perhaps we read in this bulletin.

Days after the fire, BC Wildfire's operations manager defended the idea of ​​the planned fire, saying high, sustained winds that changed the course of the fire were responsible for x27;much of the damage.

The Lower East Adams Lake and Bush Creek fires would soon merge and spread over more than 450 square kilometers.

The Forest Practices Board says its investigation is expected to take six months to a year. A group will review the findings and may make recommendations.

Last month, British Columbia Premier David Eby announced the creation of an expert working group to provide recommendations on improving emergency preparedness and response.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116