Fernie mayor Mary Giuliano. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

Fernie mayor joins calls for backcountry closure

Mary Giuliano has backed calls to close the backcountry as a wildfire rages east of Fernie.

The mayor of Fernie has joined calls to close the backcountry as an out-of-control wildfire rages east of the town.

Mary Giuliano is holidaying in the Okanagan but has been closely monitoring the Coal Creek Road fire, which is currently 12km east of Fernie and 713ha in size.

When the fire was first discovered on Friday, it was 20ha and 14km east of Fernie.

BC Wildfire Service is on site, however, the fire is not yet contained, which Giuliano says is concerning.

“I have been told though that it’s not coming in the direction of Fernie, so that’s a good thing,” she told The Free Press on Sunday.

“Because the BC Wildfire Service is in charge, there’s not really that much I can do except monitor and put in any requests I feel are pertinent, but they’re the ones in charge.”

“I am reassured by the people that are in charge that they’re on top of things, so that’s all I can do, especially from a distance.”

The Coal Creek Road fire was initially reported as human caused, however, BC Wildfire Service says it is still under investigation.

This week, MLA for Kootenay East Tom Shypitka joined calls for a backcountry closure due to the increasing wildfire risk.

Giuliano also believes it’s time to restrict access to the backcountry.

“I think there should be a ban on all areas of the forest because if this one (Coal Creek Road fire) is human caused, that’s a really good reason there should be a ban everywhere,” she said.

“I know there are people who say it will affect their business but honestly if the forest is gone, what business will there be for anyone?”

Giuliano is due back in Fernie in a couple of days and says she has full confidence in BC Wildfire Service to manage the Coal Creek Road fire until then.

 

The Coal Creek Road fire east of Fernie is now 713ha in size. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

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