Local fire expert explains what B.C. can learn from how California's wildfires are spreading

Local fire ecologist, Bob Gray, explains how B.C. can mitigate the rapid spread of wildfires like the ones currently raging in California.

'A big part of that is fuels mitigation,' said B.C. fire ecologist Bob Gray

An inmate firefighter monitors flames as a house burns in the Napa wine region in California on Oct. 9, 2017, as multiple wind-driven fires continue to whip through the region. (Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

With wildfires causing deaths and widespread evacuations across northern California, local fire ecologist Bob Gray says B.C. can learn from California's fire season.

Gray explained to On the Coast host Stephen Quinn that experts focus on three main factors that alter fire behaviour: weather, topography and fuels.

"And the only one we can control is fuels," he said.

After California's years of drought, this last spring saw unusually wet weather spurring lush vegetation growth.

However, the hot, dry summer then caused the greenery to dry out, providing ample fuel for wildfires.

Gray says that after B.C's record-breaking summer, the province needs a cooler summer next year to get ahead and focus on fire management.

"A big part of that is fuels mitigation. It's also fire-hardening our communities so that if a fire does blow into the community, it stays on the ground and it's less damaging," he said.

Gray suggests having sheep, goats and cattle grazing the peripheries of communities, therefore eliminating dry grass that could spread fires into nearby neighbourhoods.

Inside communities, Gray says the best preventable method of spreading fires is keeping lawns mowed and consistently green. However, Gray acknowledges this is a resource issue in summertime when water restriction often prevent people from easily watering their lawns.

Listen to the full On The Coast interview below:

Local fire ecologist Bob Gray explains how B.C. can mitigate the rapid spread of wildfires like the ones currently raging in California. 6:56