Hamilton Boulevard extension goes up in smoke

Choking clouds of thick smoke drifted through Copper Ridge, Granger and parts of Lobird on Monday. Some people weren’t impressed.

Choking clouds of thick smoke drifted through Copper Ridge, Granger and parts of Lobird on Monday.

Some people weren’t impressed.

“I would estimate that we had around six to eight complaints,” said acting fire chief Warren Zakus.

“Most of the effect was felt by people with asthma and other respiratory conditions.”

The burning of large piles of brush, a byproduct of the Hamilton Boulevard extension caused the smoke.

The contractor received a permit, said Zakus.

The burning is allowed as long as it’s not causing problems for people.

If smoke or fire becomes troublesome, as it was Monday, Whitehorse fire department steps in to reduce the effect the burning is having on the public.

“Unfortunately by the time we started receiving complaints they had set quite a number of large brush piles on fire so it was producing a large amount of smoke,” said Zakus.

“At that point, there wasn’t really a lot we could do other than stop them from igniting any new fires.”

Experts from the Yukon Environment department were also asked how to deal with the smoke.

“It would have been long, difficult and time consuming to try to extinguish the fires and likely would have produced more smoke,” said Zakus.

“As the fires were left to burn, they began to burn hotter and cleaner and they produced less smoke.”

The contractor’s permit was then amended to prevent the lighting of multiple fires.

“We really didn’t know whether it was going to be a problem or not; you can’t predict the weather or what the wind’s going to do,” said Zakus.

The burn permit issued to the large operation falls under the same category as those issued to citizens clearing the brush from single country residential lots.

“In the future, we may look at putting restrictions on the original permit on the amount that can be burned at one time,” he said.

“Especially with a project of this scale.”