Mountain Pine Beetle has been in the park for many years. While they’ve been working hard to keep the beetle under control, there is a lot of beetle damage.
Just picture it: large areas with clumps of dead trees, standing red or grey, or down on the ground. All drying up in the summer heat. And now with an approaching fire, all that dead, dry material could act like kindling.
The BC Forest Service, Canadian Forest Service, and some other partners did some testing a couple of weeks ago with fire in MPB damaged stands near Prince George. They wanted to study how fire behaviour might differ from that in normal forests. I hope they learned something they can use to help get this fire under control quickly.
I guess the other option would be to let nature take it’s course. After all, fire is a natural part of the lodgepole pine ecosystem. My fear is that we’re not dealing with a ‘natural ecosystem’ any more. Fire protection has changed that. And so has warmer temperatures over the last many years.
What we’re left with is large areas littered with dead trees. Sure, not *all* the trees are dead, but we’ve got a lot of standing kindling. That will probably result in fires that are more intense than normal, making it harder for anything to survive.
The good news today is that North winds are in the forecast. Those should push the fire back into itself and give those firefighters a chance.