B.C. looks to prescribed burns to fight wildfires, regenerate ecosystems


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British Columbia’s government says it supports starting its own fires to control wildfires.

A report from the Forests Ministry says it now endorses prescribed burns as a fire-fighting tool and plans are underway to allow its expanded use.

The controlled burns are part of a government action plan arising from an independent report that made 108 recommendations to overhaul disaster response practices after devastating wildfires and floods in 2017.

Former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister George Abbott and Indigenous leader Maureen Chapman called for greater partnerships with First Nations, local, provincial and federal governments to better prepare for emergencies and disasters.

Abbott said then as B.C.’s former health minister, he would have rejected prescribed burns of forest lands because of the health hazard caused by smoke, but now he sees them as a way to protect communities from fires.

B.C. has endured unprecedented wildfires, forcing the provincial government to declare a state of emergency in each of the 2017 and 2018 forest fire seasons.