2003 Wildfires


2003 was a memorable year throughout British Columbia. The Okanagan Mountain Fire resulted in the evacuation of Kelowna, and the media coverage of the fire and the evacuation was sobering. It is a fact that fire hazard in much of the province is steadily increasing due to fuel loading.


Firefighting strategies focus on early detection and fast initial attack, with fire crews and water bombers. However, once a fire reaches a significant size, heavy machinery is needed in order to fight it. In severe circumstances, the only thing that can be done is to get out of the way.


Fire Facts for the Kootenay Lake Forest District 2003


        Total area burned - 25,632 ha
Percent of District burned - 2.1%

Area burned of harvestable timber - 13,430 ha



        Number of fires/smoke chases crews sent to - -216

Total number of fires -181

Number of lightning caused fires -109

Number of human caused fires -72


        Total # of Fires by size -Kootenay Lake District

-# of Fires 4 - 99 ha
-12 (3 in alpine parkland)
-# of Fires 100-1000 ha -9
(1 in park, 1 in alpine parkland)

-# of Fires larger than 1000 ha 6 (2 in park, 1 in alpine parkland)


        Dollars spent on Suppression for Kootenay Lake District $22, 533,000


        Burned area totals ( Fires do not burn 100% within the boundary)

Crown Land Burned (large fires) 25,632ha
Private Land Burned (large fires) -510 ha
(Darkwoods & Beaumont)
Indian Reserve - 0 ha
Woodlot area burned - 0 ha

Total area of park burned - 9851 ha

Total area of alpine parkland burned - 2351 ha

Percentage Park or alpine parkland - 48%

Amount of fireguard built (km) - 230 km


        Timber Harvest Land Base (District timber producing area)


        Total THLB in District - 257,000 ha
Timber Harvest Land Base Burned (large fires) - 13,430 ha
Percent of District Timber Harvest Land Base - 5.2%

        Allowable Annual Cut for District (average volume m3 harvested each year)

Average AAC 681,000 m3 from 2150 ha
Percent of AAC in burn area - 5-6 years in total
( this timber would not necessarily have been available for harvest immediately because of other constraints)


        Salvage operations from fires (Gross area & volume not all burned)

Timber Volume - 207,500 m3
Salvage area - 1670 ha


Number of plantations burned 52-
Area of plantations burned 1045 ha


Other comments


        Most of the large fires occurring in the Kootenay Lake District happened in parks, alpine parkland or difficult to access areas.

        Many high elevation Old Growth Management Areas & caribou habitat areas were burned.