WATCH: There was heavy smoke and flame in the hills near Metchosin Thursday morning. April Lawrence reports.
It’s a sound you never want to hear and a sight you never want to see, but the wildfire burning near Metchosin Thursday morning isn’t wild at all.
“It’s months of planning and it’s finding that perfect window with the weather,” said Wildfire Technician Morgan Boghean.
“We came out, looked at the area, mowed the grass around it, laid all the hose around the perimeter of the fire, tested the pumps,” he said.
Usually tasked with fighting them, wildfire crews were actually lighting the fires and hoping the grassy field would burn.
“It gets overrun by invasive species so having the prescribed fire will get rid of the invasive species and a lot of the natural species here evolved with fire so it will stimulate growth,” Boghean said.
But they weren’t just there to protect the ecosystem.
The prescribed burn was being done on a training field at the Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot Rocky Point and with explosives on site the risk for forest fires is high.
“The fire will hopefully keep conifers out of the area so you don’t have conifer encroachment in these areas that will over time create a bigger fire hazard,” said Maritime Forces Pacific Environment Officer Mike Waters.
While a first for the Department of National Defense, the BC Wildfire service carries out prescribed burns across the province every year.
B.C. has just had its worst wildfire season on record with more than 1,000 fires burning roughly 900,000 hectares in just five months.
Experts say increasing the number of prescribed burns will help protect communities in the future.
“After a fire season like this where we had a lot of uncontrollable fires it’s when we do have these controlled burns it does get rid of that fuel litter,” said Boghean.
The Canadian Forces say it will check the area in spring to see how effective the burn was and if it will expand the program in the future.