Controlled burn leads to smokey skies above Kitimat

Fire chief stepped in and stopped burning

The Northern Sentinel switchboard lit up with calls on Friday with reports of a wildfire in the Kitimat River estuary.

However, a quick email to Kitimat Fire Department chief Trent Bossence cleared up the mystery of the thick smoke that blanketed Kitimat as a result of the fire.

A burn permit had been issued to developer and Strawberry Meadows resident Jack Oviatt. The ensuing smoke from the burning of plant waste is what caused alarm amongst some residents in light of the wildfires that burned uncontrollably in the rest of the province in summer.

“Mr. Oviatt does have a permit to burn in the Strawberry Meadows area. However, with the permit comes certain requirements that we expect the permit holder to adhere by,” said Bossence.

“If conditions are not favourable, it is the responsibility of the permit holder to adjust their burning schedule accordingly. In the case of this weekend, conditions changed and Mr. Oviatt was asked to discontinue burning.”

Bossence added that once weather conditions return to favourable as they relate to open burning, Oviatt will be given the go-ahead to burn again.

“Typically, if the public complains we will investigate the complaint and make the appropriate choice based on smoke and fire conditions and the time of the complaint and how it is or may affect the general public,” added Bossence.

He said that while the fire department hadn’t received any complaints on Saturday, he had decided to contact Oviatt and request that he stop burning.

”Unfortunately, with the weather conditions like they were, it took some time for the smoke to dissipate,” said Bossence.

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