July 24, 2009

Forest Fire in Canada forced 10,000 people to evacuate their homes

A raging forest fire in Canada have forced 10,000 people to evacuate their homes according to this news report

"Right now there are over 10,000 people who have been evacuated... and then we've got over 6,000 people on evacuation alert," said Jenelle Turpin, an Emergency Operations Center officer in Kelowna, a British Columbia city of 100,000 people about 400 kilometers (250 miles) east of Vancouver.

"They've been out of their homes for the last two days with very little clothing or their support stuff from home,” Turpin said.

Three fires broke out from Saturday in pine forests which cover the mountainsides ringing Kelowna and the surrounding area, one of western Canada's main wine-growing regions.[Source]

Here are some general facts about forest fires in Canada from Canadian Forest Service:

* The number and distribution of forest fires and area burned varies annually across Canada.

* Although fire statistics go back to the 1920s, Canadian statistics before 1970 are considered incomplete.

* Provincial and territorial fire agencies are responsible for fire-suppression activities.

* The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC) provides operational fire-control services and links to all provincial and territorial fire agencies.

* Fire occurrence and area burned is highly variable
o Area burned ranges from 0.7 million to 7.6 million ha/year.
o Average area burned is 2.5 million ha/year.
o Average fire occurrence is 8000 fires/year.
o Average suppression costs are $500 million to $1 billion annually.

* Lightning fires
o Represent 45% of all fires.
o Represent 81% of total area burned.
o Occur in remote locations and often in multiple clusters.

* Human-caused fires
o Occur in more populated areas and are usually reported quickly.

* Fire size
o 3% of fires are greater than 200 ha.
o Fires greater than 200 ha represent 97% of area burned.

Large Fire Database (LFDB)

* The LFDB is a collection of information about fires > 200 ha in size.
* The LFDB consists of point and polygon data sets.
* The LFDB is available for download.

Fire Suppression and Level of Protection

* Fire suppression is a provincial responsibility.
* The level of protection varies across Canada and within provinces.
* Key issues in the discussion of fire suppression and level of protection relate to the use natural fire versus the role of protecting the forest.

Boreal Fire Characteristics

* In the boreal forest, large fires dominate the area burned.
* Large fires are a natural and essential part of the boreal forest ecosystem.
* Large fires have played a major role in forming and maintaining the boreal forest.
* Large fires have high fuel consumption and rates of fire spread.
* Extremely high rates of sustained energy release are common.
* Towering convection columns can reach into the upper troposphere or stratosphere.
* Long-range smoke transport is an issue.

Circumboreal Fire Characteristics

* Boreal forest is located primarily in Canada, Russia, and Alaska.
* Annual area burned is 5 million to 15 million ha.
* Crown fires are typical in North America.
* Surface fires are typical in Russia.
* Fires are natural and essential to boreal ecosystems.
* Russian statistics are underestimated.
* Area burned shows great interannual variability.
* Key issues are continental climate, extreme weather, multiple ignitions.

For more information about forest fire in Canada, visit http://fire.cfs.nrcan.gc.ca