TUMBLER RIDGE -- Tumbler Ridge is looking to better prepare for the upcoming wildfire season after last year’s West Kiskatinaw River wildfire forced frantic evacuation orders, and came within three kilometres of the district.

Mayor Darryl Krakowka says he has met with the B.C. Wildfire Service, the Ministry of Forests, and the local fire department to begin the preparations amid deep drought conditions and low snowpack.

The district is looking to implement FireSmart programs through the establishment of a coordinator position, and will apply for the FireSmart Community Funding and Supports Program.

The program is administered through the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and provides up to $150,000 for FireSmart activities including education, vegetation management, emergency planning, cross-training of fire response crews, and structural development considerations.

Krakowka says, communication between citizens and government will be its biggest tool in being prepared.

In late February, Mayor Krakowka penned a letter to the Minister of Forest Bruce Ralston calling for the reversal of the Northern Initial Fire Attack Crew from Chetwynd to Dawson Creek.

“The crew’s familiarity with our terrain, vegetation, and local fire dynamics ensures a more effective and efficient response to wildfires,” said Krakowka.

The move to centralize the service has not been reversed, and has drawn criticism from MLAs Mike Bernier and Dan Davies.

“All available climate projections indicate that the threat to our communities posed by wildfires will continue to increase for the foreseeable future,” wrote Bernier in a letter to the minister.

There is currently 99 active wildfires in British Columbia, according to the latest figures by the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre.