Smoke gets in your eyes

Smoky skies in the B.C. Interior are the result of several large forest fires.

  • Sep. 21, 2012 7:00 a.m.

Smoky skies in the B.C. Interior are the result of several large forest fires, including the Entiako Lake fire in the northeast corner of Tweedsmuir Park. The smoke from these fires has drifted down the coast to Bella Coola, east to Prince George and as far south as Kamloops.

Smoke in may also increase over the weekend, as fire crews are waiting for favorable burning conditions to conduct some burn off operations on the Entiako Lake fire in order to stop the fire’s spread toward the east in order to protect some values and keep the fire within park boundaries.

If proper venting permits, Fire Information Officer Lindsay Carnes said crews may conduct an ignition on Saturday. The planned burn is expected to be 3,000 hectares in size.

The Wildfire Management Branch is taking care to protect any nearby values. Fire crews have safeguarded several cabins by setting up structure protection units (industrial sprinklers).

There are 21 firefighters and a fire ignition specialist (burn-off supervisor) scheduled to perform this controlled burn over the next few days. It will be ignited from the air and by hand.

Firefighting crews, aircraft and heavy equipment will be on site to ensure that the fire does not spread past thefireguards that crews have established.

The Entiako Lake fire is currently estimated at 6,120 hectares. It is a modified response fire, which means that the fire is being allowed to burn and expand in some areas to help restore ecosystems where no resources are at risk.


More information about the Entiako Lake fire is available online at:



Facts about the ecological role of wildfires:


• Fire renews and restores habitats by thinning the forest cover and enhancing the growth of grasses and shrubs. This results in vegetation of different ages and types, offering a mix of habitats for many species of insects, mammals and birds. Some threatened species, such as badgers, require open forest and grassland for survival. It also creates a more resilient forest that can better respond to disease and insect


• Fires release nutrients that are locked up in slowly decaying logs and other organic material. The enriched soil then stimulates new growth and improves the nutrient content of new

vegetation, which is an important food source for wildlife.

• Some trees and shrubs have evolved to depend on fire to reproduce. One example is the lodgepole pine, which has cones that are sealed by resin.

Heat from a fire melts this resin and releases the seeds from the cone.

• Trees like western larch, Douglas-fir and ponderosa pine have bark that is so thick it insulates the living tissue and allows them to survive surface fires. Fire occurs naturally in stands of these trees every five to 20 years, keeping the forest floor relatively clean of combustible material. This reduces the possibility of more severe fires that burn

hotter and may damage soils or kill these trees.

• Fire can open up a thickly treed forest, letting in sunlight to encourage the growth of shrubs and grasses that are forage for wild and domestic animals. Without periodic fires, sunlight-loving trees such as ponderosa pine give way to shade-tolerant trees such as Douglas fir, changing the diversity of the forest.