North

Whitehorse working on forest fire defence this winter

A crew is clearing a 50-metre-wide corridor along the Copper Haul Road in Whitehorse, to strengthen the city's defences against forest fires.

Crew is clearing a 50-metre-wide corridor along Copper Haul Road

Acting Whitehorse fire chief Chris Green says the 50-metre-wide fire line will give firefighters better access to the area. (Dave Croft/CBC)

Construction of a fire line along the Copper Haul Road in Whitehorse is going well, says acting fire chief Chris Green.

The work is part of a plan to strengthen the city's defences against forest fires, he said.

A crew is clearing trees and brush back on each side of the road to create the 50-metre-wide corridor.

"So along here you'll have safe areas created," Green said, "so firefighters [who] are up here combating fires, so there will be some areas where they can, I guess, be in a safe zone, or a way out, or access to a water supply that could be along the Copper Haul road."

The road runs though the bush roughly parallel to the Alaska Highway on the southwest side of the city.

Green chats with Brad Avanthay, one of the crew clearing the corridor. (Dave Croft/CBC)

It's currently closed between the McLean Lake quarries and the Mount Sima road.

Green said that will last for about another month.

Then the workers will start working on a new section from the Mount Sima ski hill to the Mary Lake quarries. Green expects that to take until April.

The fire line is not a firebreak, which would be wider, said Green. Firebreaks are something the city might consider later.

Green said forest fires are a worry.

The brush is being chipped for removal to the landfill while logs over 10 centimetres in diameter at the base will available to the public for firewood. (Dave Croft/CBC)

"I think it's a big concern with everybody here as you know," he said.

"The snow for this year is very little, and come spring I'm worried about the moisture content that's left behind — so again, that wildfire worry is going to increase as spring approaches," he said.

Green says the brush is chipped for removal to the landfill.

Trees with a minimum 10-centimetre base will be piled in a central location where the public can cut them for firewood.

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