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The Town of High Level would like to would like to thank local residents for their cooperation following their return home from the evacuation this summer, and to let them know that anyone who has coloured flagging tape on their properties left from Fire Department activities during the Chuckegg Creek fire can remove it as this preventative measure is no longer needed.
During the emergency, one of the preparation strategies used to protect the town involved going from house to house doing fire safety assessments. Crews were trying to identify properties which would need work done to keep those properties safe in the event the fire entered the town.
This work included the possible need to remove trees or bushes deemed too close to buildings, but was also related to a number of other Fire Smart activities.
“We didn’t want to do that without a reasonable cause,” said Scott Smith, Wildland Urban Interface Team Lead and Captain for the HLFD.
“We wanted to have things marked so if the fire entered the town, we could quickly get and take care of the things we needed to take care of.”
While the flagging tape colours used were largely based on the colour of flagging tape found in a vehicle when the work was being done, some – such as the blue flagging tape – was used to indicate that people were protecting their properties with their own sprinkler system.
“It was an easy thing, as we were driving by, to go turn the water back on for their sprinklers,” said Smith. “We had shut them off so we didn’t have water running for a week when it wasn’t needed.”
“People are more than free to take down anything that was left up there now. We won’t be coming to cut down your trees on you while you are at work.”
Smith said the importance of this pre-work could not be understated.
“We were lucky enough we had the time to go around and do some preplanning on that,” Smith said.
“It would have slowed us down,” he added. “Instead of just driving down the road looking for a ribbon, we would have had to stop at each individual house – if we had the time while the fire was coming in.
“It allowed us to have breathing room to know we had the time to send a couple crews through to hit up these spots where we needed work done that we could do quickly.”
It is important to note the ribbons do not specifically mark a “problem tree,” but rather, the ribbons were placed in spots which were easy to see from the road.
“The ribbon you have on your tree might be for the bush you have up against your home, or a garden area in the back with a flammable area,” said Smith. “And everybody was trained to know what we were looking for at those places.”