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2012 ISSUE 5

In this Issue: Restrictions on Open Fire

Cold Trailing

At Coastal

JULY 13, 2012

Holdovers To understand what a holdover fire is, you must first understand that there are several different categories of fire: subsurface (ground) fires; surface fires; and crown fires. Holdover fires are subsurface fires that make their way back to the surface, making them easier to detect. Subsurface or ground fires burn on or beneath the forest floor. Fuels consist of duff (topsoil, partially decayed leaves and tree needles) and decayed, woody material at a depth that may include tree and shrub roots. Because ground fuels are often compacted, have a limited oxygen supply and are protected from the wind, a slow-burning and persistent fire is produced. As a result, detection is very difficult. These fires may burn under the surface for a long time before they are discovered. In some cases, these fires may burn through-

out the winter (sometimes over a period of years) before coming to the surface. The photos below show a subsurface fire identified when partial burning at the base of a tree was detected. When the roots were uncovered, smoke billowed out and confirmed a smouldering subsurface fire. The tree had to be removed to contain the fire and then the roots around the tree were carefully examined to make sure the fire had not spread to other trees. Holdover fires are often (but not always) the result of dry lightning strikes. As weather conditions heat up, more holdover fires spring up. If it’s suspected that a holdover fire is in an area, infrared scanning may be requested. Once the area is scanned and mapped, fire crews go back to that area and “cold trail” to find specific spots needing attention.

Cold Trailing

Cold Trail Your Campfire

A “mop-up” is the act of reinforcing a control line built around a fire. With a small fire, the crew’s goal is to completely extinguish all smouldering material inside the fireline.

Principles adopted by fire crews to put out a fire are the same ones we expect from you if you start a campfire. Knowing how to start a campfire is only half of the equation; putting it out safely and completely is the most important part. So here is your step-by-step guide to putting out a campfire: 1. Allow the wood to burn down completely to ash, if possible 2. Pour lots of water on the fire and drown all the embers, not just the red ones 3. Pour water over the campfire site until the hissing stops 4. Stir the ashes and embers with a shovel 5. Scrape down sticks and logs to remove any embers 6. Stir the ashes to make sure everything is thoroughly wet and the ashes are cold to the touch (cold trailing) 7. If you do not have enough water available, use dirt. Mix dirt or sand into the embers and continue adding and stirring until all material is cool to the touch. Do not just bury the fire! If it’s not extinguished correctly, you could create a subsurface fire that may become a holdover fire.

See detailed weather forecast page 2

On a larger fire, all smouldering material within a secure strip inside that fireline is extinguished. The width of the strip is determined by the Incident Commander and water is then applied to that strip, followed by (or in conjunction with) “cold trailing”. Prior to leaving a hot spot (a stump, log, duff, etc.), fire crews must cold trail it. Fire crews cold trail by using their bare hands to conduct a careful and methodical inspection of the burned material. They cautiously feel the surface for warmth before driving their hands into the ground. Crews walk along and turn over earth, looking for smoke and feeling for warm areas. They extinguish small hot spots as they go and identify larger areas that need further work or monitoring. Cold trailing is the most common method that Initial Attack Crews use to determine if a small fire is fully extinguished.

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To Date in Coastal

Restrictions on Open Fire

Fires to Date Person Caused


Lighting Caused


Total Number of Fires


Hectares burnt


Number of Incidents Responded to


There is a provision in the Wildfire Act that allows the government to restrict open fires within B.C. The Wildfire Act can restrict campfires, Category 2 (backyard) burns and Category 3 (industrial and resource management) burns. Many people don’t understand what causes these restrictions to be put in place. Open burning is only regulated within the Coastal Fire Centre when all indications (including fire science, past experience and trends) necessitate a fire prohibition in the interest of public safety. Section 10 of the Wildfire Act (Restrictions on Open Fires) reads: 10 (1) Despite a regulation enacting the prescribed circumstances referred to in section 5 (1) or 6 (1) in which an open fire may be lit, fuelled or used, if an official considers it necessary or desirable to limit the risk of a fire or to address a public safety concern, the official, by order for a specified area, may (a) restrict or prohibit the lighting, fuelling or

use of an open fire, or (b) require all persons lighting, fuelling or using one or more open fires in the area to cease doing so and to extinguish the open fire or fires. (2) A restriction or requirement under this section may be different for different (a) types, categories or subcategories of open fires, (b) categories of persons, places or things, or (c) circumstances. (3) A person must not carry out an activity that is the subject of a restriction or prohibition under subsection (1) (a). (4) Each of the persons that is the subject of an order under subsection (1) (b) must comply with the order. Safety is of paramount importance. Fire restrictions are enacted when senior officers believe that there may be a risk to the public.

To read the Wildfire Act go to:

Fire Danger Rating

Today At Coastal


As of July 13, 2012

A holdover fire west of Manning Park has focused the attention of our crews as more lightning is on the way. We expect that lightning may strike on the southern part of Vancouver Island and in the Fraser Valley over the next three days.

SYNOPSIS (today and tomorrow): A strong ridge of high pressure lies over most of the fire centre today giving mainly sunny skies. A weak upper low centre lying over Washington State will bring bands of cloud and a chance of thundershowers to southern Vancouver Island, eastward to Manning Park. Temperatures will be quite warm again today with highs mostly in the upper 20’s to low 30’s except low twenties near coastal waters. Light winds prevailing except light to moderate inflows through coastal inlets this afternoon. Gusty winds are possible near thundershowers. On Saturday the sunny warm weather continues as the ridge holds. Isolated thundershowers are expected in the southeast with a risk in Pemberton and the southern half of Vancouver Island. OUTLOOK (days 3-5): The sunshine and above normal temperatures continue Sunday and Monday as the upper ridge persists. A slight chance of a thundershower in the southeast on Sunday. Highs mostly in the upper twenties to mid thirties in some interior valleys. An upper trough passing through northern BC should bring some cloudy periods to northern portions of the fire centre on Tuesday. 6 TO 10 DAY: Mainly sunny skies and warm temperatures on Wednesday with the upper ridge rebuilding. A trough of low pressure should give increasing cloud and a chance of showers to Haida Gwaii Thursday and Friday. At this point, it looks like southern areas should stay dry but somewhat cooler. A ridge of high pressure is forecast to rebuild Saturday and Sunday.

Predominantly Moderate with areas of High

To Report a Wildfire 1-800-663-5555 Or *5555 on a cell

V10125—The Coastal Fire Centre is actioning a fire slightly west of Manning Park in the Fraser Zone. There is no threat to people or structures. The cause was lightning with a lightning tree located at the scene. The fire is in steep terrain. It is currently burning in slash. The fire is 1.5 hectares in size. Because of the mountainous area radio contact was difficult. This fire was discovered on July 10, 2012, two days after the original lightning strike. There is currently one unit crew (20 persons) on the fire.

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Coastal Wildfire News  

Newsletter about wildfire from the BC Coast