September 19, 2005

Fire crews battle Burns Bog blaze

DELTA, BC-Firefighters from the Delta Fire Department, regional district and BC Forest Service last week battled a wildfire in Burns Bog, an ecologically sensitive area only 25 kilometres from downtown Vancouver. The fire covered a section approximately one kilometre wide and two kilometres long, its smoke casting a haze over the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD), which issued an advisory warning residents of fair to poor air quality. Airborne water bombers helped ground crews fight the fire, which by mid-week was reported to be 80% contained. Fires have broken out in the bog previously, including one in 1996 which destroyed 170 hectares. Although the cause of last week's fire was undetermined, Eliza Olson noted that it began in a corner of the bog where dewatering activity was being carried out to avoid flooding nearby farmland. Burns Bog, covering approximately 3,000 hectares of the Fraser River delta, has been termed the largest undeveloped urban landmass in North America; it is home to many rare plant and animal species. In March 2004, the federal and BC governments, along with the GVRD and the Corporation of Delta together purchased 2,042 ha of the bog for protection as an Ecological Conservancy Area. A legally binding conservation covenant was placed on the property to ensure that Burns Bog is protected and managed effectively as a natural ecosystem.

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