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New Red Cross program rewards B.C. residents who protect homes against wildfires

The Home Mitigation Incentive Program is only available to those whose communities were affected by the 2017 wildfires
Trevor Briggs is pictured here conducting a burn-out to protect the Cariboo Fire Centre and Williams Lake airport on July 8, 2017 (Photo by Stephan Karolat, Blackwater Unit Crew Leader / from B.C. website)

The height of summer is here, and the Canadian Red Cross wants to ensure that British Columbians are protecting their homes from wildfires by using fire mitigation.

Fire mitigation makes an area less susceptible to a large fire, and also helps firefighters that have to put that fire out. Mitigation can mean moving a storage shed away from the house, attaching a 100-foot garden hose to the house, or cleaning out a chimney.

It’s all about reducing fire spreading before the fire even sparks, keeping communities spared from similar fates as those affected by the wildfires in 2017.

The 108 fires were initially caused by a lightning storm on July 7, 2017.

Trevor Briggs, a BC Wildfire Service firefighter based in Quesnel, said in a statement that the weather is what caused those lightning strikes to turn into massive blazes.

“We saw multiple lightning strikes, all of which were instantly turning into smoke columns due to severe fire weather, some of which merged together as we drove by,” said Briggs.

Briggs and his team assisted local fire departments in Wildwood and Williams Lake, trying to reduce the spread of the massive fires.

READ MORE: BCWS crew have fire near Esler gravel pit, west of Williams Lake under control

The Home Mitigation Incentive Program is a way to combat wildfires in communities that have already been severely affected.

According to the Red Cross website, the pilot Home Mitigation Incentive Program “provides financial incentive to targeted eligible residents who wish to undertake mitigative actions to protect their homes against future wildfires, floods, and extreme heat event.”

Applicants can receive up to $10,000.

The program opened on May 9, and the application deadline is Nov. 1.

Applicants for this program must have been a resident of a community of the 2017 wildfires, equipped with proper documentation. This may be land title documents, property tax bills, mortgage documentation, or a copy of a lease.

Applicants must also be registered with the Canadian Red Cross or be located in Quesnel or Ashcroft Indian Band.

To receive funds from the program, applicants must keep any invoices or receipts indicating how much money was spent on the mitigation process.

Information about how to mitigate a home is located on the program’s website.

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