Forestry and fire officials have found an environmentally friendly way to clean up a perennial Vernon hotspot.
Firefighters and forest officials from the Vernon Fire Zone have been invited by the City of Vernon and Vernon Fire Rescue to help remove combustible forest fuels that pose a risk to interface communities around Becker Park, located off 39th Avenue and Alexis Park Drive.
Officials will gather at the park Thursday at 10 a.m. They’ll be identifying mountain pine beetle killed trees and falling them, as well as cleaning up other debris in the park that could pose a fire risk.
“The debris will be placed in a wood/debris chipper and taken to Enderby to be used as biomass by Burkhard Fink, a bio-fuels expert from Fink Machine Inc.,” said Vernon Fire Rescue deputy fire chief Lawrie Skolrood.
Past practice for such an event meant burning the piles, creating a lot of smoke. Now, the debris will be hauled to Fink’s chipper in Enderby, placed in his boilers and the chips will be used to help heat the Enderby swimming pool.
“So there’s a useful end result, and it’s totally environment friendly,” said Skolrood.
The exercise will significantly reduce wildfire risks in a park that has been prone to fires throughout the years.
It will also give crews a chance to spread awareness about the FireSmart program, which Thursday’s exercise falls under.
“FireSmart is an initiative focused on reducing the risk of wildfire around homes and communities,” said Skolrood. “Residents play a key role in wildfire protection because everyone shares the responsibility for preserving life and property by planning for fire protection.”
The northeast and southwest corners of Becker Park will be the focus of Thursday’s initiative.
Skolrood said the southwest corner poses the most significant risks to residents living down near the Priest Valley Arena and Gymnasium complex on 35th Avenue.