Fire officials urge safe burning

A fire in Watson Lake on Wednesday came dangerously close to several homes. "We were lucky and fortunate that we were able to catch it," said Mike Sparks with Wildland Fire Management.

A fire in Watson Lake on Wednesday came dangerously close to several homes.

“We were lucky and fortunate that we were able to catch it,” said Mike Sparks with Wildland Fire Management.

Residents had been burning brush on their property earlier in the month and thought that it had been extinguished.

But the fire continued to smoulder underground and reignited.

An officer with Wildland Fire Management was in the area, inspecting flood waters in Upper Liard, when he spotted the fire.

The residents were not home.

Wildland Fire Management and Watson Lake’s volunteer fire department quickly responded and put out the fire.

This fire season was slow to start, because of the cool late spring.

The first wildfire of the season, a human-caused spot fire near Yukon College, occurred on May 17, two weeks later than the first fire of the 2012 season.

This week’s Watson Lake fire was the second for this year.

But because the weather changed from cool to hot so quickly, the fire risk across the territory is quite high.

“Because of that cool start the actual green-up is just occurring now, so we’re still in some fairly volatile conditions,” said Sparks.

About half of the fires that Wildland responds to are human-caused.

Most of those are preventable, said Sparks.

Wildland Fire Management would like to remind people that all open burning, except for campfires, requires a permit between April 1 and September 30.

The Watson Lake residents had a permit for their fire.

Following the conditions of the permit is critical, said Sparks.

Permits are available from local fire management zone offices.

While campfires are permitted, they can also pose a problem when not extinguished properly, said Sparks.

Wildland responded to two calls involving abandoned campfires Wednesday, in addition to the Watson Lake fire, he said.

Inside of Whitehorse city limits, the rules for burning and campfires are different.

No open burning is permitted between April 1 and September 30.

Permits are required the rest of the year, and can be obtained from the fire department at city hall.

The only fires permitted within city limits during summer months are campfires in campgrounds or in approved backyard fire pits.

Guidelines on how to construct an acceptable fire pit are available at the Whitehorse Fire Department’s website.

Once the pit is constructed, residents are asked to call the fire department and have an officer inspect it.

After being approved the fire pit may be used, but residents are asked to notify the fire department each time they plan to light a backyard fire.

Clive Sparks, chief of the Whitehorse Fire Department, is urging residents to report any fires within city limits outside of designated fire pits.

The department responds to 70 to 100 calls regarding illegal burning each summer, he said.

He would also like to remind residents that fireworks are not allowed in the city of Whitehorse without a permit.

Permits are only available for professional fireworks displays.

The fire department is on high alert this time of year because of graduation parties and other bush gatherings that have, in recent years, gotten out of hand, said Sparks.

“We have had one firefighter injured once with people throwing beer bottles at them, fire truck damages, those sorts of things.”

When partygoers are unruly the RCMP must be called in as well to make sure the fire is safely extinguished, he said.

“It’s an expensive proposition when you have to call in two or three agencies to deal with that type of a situation that has got out of hand.”

Any wildfire or suspicious burning activity should be reported to 911 or the local fire department.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Jodie Gibson has been named the 2020 Prospector of the Year by the Yukon Prospectors Association. (Submitted)
Jodie Gibson named 2020 Prospector of the Year

Annual award handed out by the Yukon Prospector’s Association

A number 55 is lit in honour of Travis Adams, who died earlier this year, at the Winter Wonderland Walk at Meadow Lakes Golf Club in Whitehorse on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
A new take on holiday traditions

Winter Wonderland Walk, virtual Stories with Santa all part of 2020 festive events in Whitehorse

Eric Schroff, executive director with the Yukon Fish and Game Association, poses for a portrait on Feb. 20. Schroff says he is puzzled as to why the Yukon government is cutting back on funding for the association. (Jackie Hong/Yukon News file)
YG cuts Yukon Fish and Game Association funding, tried to vet outgoing communications

Yukon Fish and Game Association says 25 per cent government funding cut will impact operations

asdf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Nov. 27, 2020

Premier Sandy Silver during a live update on the COVID-19 situation at a press conference in Whitehorse on March 27. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Total Yukon COVID case count increased to 42 cases

Premier urges patience after national meeting on vaccine roll-out

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Keith Lay speaks at a city council meeting on Dec. 4, 2017. Lay provided the lone submission to council on the city’s proposed $33 million capital spending plan for 2021 on Nov. 23, taking issue with a number of projects outlined. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Resident raises issues with city’s capital budget

Council to vote on budget in December

Most Read