A fire burned slowly and carefully north of the Redstreak Campground by the Village of Radium Hot Springs on Friday, April 27th. The controlled burn was meant to decrease wildfire risk and to restore the ecosystem, said Charlie McLellan, an acting fire management officer with Parks Canada.

“The objective of these burns in this area… is to reduce wildfire risk to the community of Radium and to the Columbia Valley,” he said.

The 10 hectare fire was under close supervision, with more than a dozen fire personnel, two water trucks and a helicopter on site.

“When we have a large fire season such as last year when it’s really dry and everything is burning, if a fire is coming through the Sinclair Valley towards the Columbia Valley (a controlled burn cuts down on the available fuel and) gives a reduction in fire behaviour,” he said. “It gives an area we can work more effectively from the air and from the ground.”

Creating clearings and maintaining open spaces allow better access for firefighters and for aircraft than in a thick, overgrown forest. Open areas with less fuel also slow a fire down and offer a safer environment for workers.

As Mr. McLellan supervised the fire on Friday afternoon, he said: “It’s going well. It’s going relatively slow and conservative.”

Even so, the perimeter was wetted down to keep the fire safely contained.

The controlled burn offers advantages beyond reducing wildfire risk. Mr. McLellan said his objectives also include restoring open grassland ecosystems, enhancing habitat for creatures such as elk, deer and big horn sheep, and “maintaining natural migration routes for them.”