FireSmart in action

Mount Baldy’s Resilience Journey

Mount Baldy’s success story stands as an inspiring example of community-driven wildfire resiliency following a ‘near miss’ wildfire experience.

The 2021 Nk’Mip Creek wildfire served as a stark reminder for Mount Baldy and its residents that nothing focuses the mind toward FireSmarting more than a wildfire knocking at your doorstep. The harrowing experience of witnessing the destructive force of the fire firsthand instilled a profound sense of urgency and determination within the community.

However, the lessons learned emphasized that waiting until a wildfire is imminent is not a viable strategy. Communities must not allow wildfires to get dangerously close before taking decisive action. The devastation wrought by the Nk’Mip Creek wildfire underscored the critical need for proactive measures, prompting Mount Baldy to form FireSmart committees, engage experts, and collaborate with the RDKB for a comprehensive mitigation strategy. The community’s commitment to learning from this experience and implementing preventative measures demonstrates that waiting for a crisis is not an option when it comes to safeguarding homes and lives against the unpredictable threat of wildfires.


The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) has been actively involved in supporting communities in their wildfire resiliency efforts.  One such community that has shown remarkable dedication to mitigating wildfire risks is the Village of Mount Baldy especially in the aftermath of the devastating 2021 Nk’Mip Creek wildfire which decimated over 20,000 hectares.

Baldy Village is located on the south side of Mount Baldy on the border of the South Okanagan & West Kootenays, just north of the Canada-US border. Baldy Village is home to about 160 private homes and approximately 40 year-round residents. Residents of Mount Baldy have Recognized the importance of proactive measures and have been collaborating with the RDKB to implement a comprehensive FireSmarting initiative over the past two years.

Former Mt. Baldy resident and Local FireSmart Representative Doug McLeod initiated Mt. Baldy residents on the path to wildfire preparedness.

The Impact of the 2021 Nk’Mip Creek Wildfire:

The catalyst for Mount Baldy’s proactive FireSmart initiative was the proximity of the 2021 Nk’Mip Creek wildfire – it was just 2.5km away from the ski resort and 123 households were subject to evacuation orders and alerts during the event (July/August2021). Witnessing the destruction and hardship caused by this wildfire as residents were evacuated for 6 weeks served as a wake-up call for the Mount Baldy community. The scars left by the Nk’Mip Creek wildfire highlighted the urgent need for a robust and proactive approach to mitigate future risks.

Initiation of FireSmart Efforts:

In January 2022, Mount Baldy took a significant step by forming two community FireSmart committees. The goal was to create a collaborative and organized approach toward enhancing the community’s wildfire resiliency. Carlene Pires (RDKB’s Emergency Program Coordinator) was appointed as the region’s FireSmart Coordinator. Her role was crucial in facilitating FireSmart education and coordinating efforts with residents in the RDKB.

The community launched its first Wildfire Community Preparedness Day in May 2022 with one foot of snow on the ground.  Over 65 people attended, including industry professionals who presented on the importance of FireSmart.

Assessment and Planning:

The Spring of 2023 marked a pivotal moment in Mount Baldy’s FireSmart journey. RDKB’s new wildfire mitigation specialist, Dan Stevens, undertook an ambitious task by completing 27 FireSmart Home Partners Program Assessments in just one month. These assessments provided homeowners with personalized recommendations to reduce wildfire risks on their properties. This detailed planning laid the groundwork for targeted mitigation efforts.

Community Clean-Up and Assessment Events:

On July 2 2023, Mount Baldy organized its second community clean-up event, reinforcing the community’s commitment to creating a fire-resilient environment. This event not only served as an opportunity for residents to actively contribute but also facilitated the assessment of key structures within the community. The focus extended beyond individual homes, encompassing critical infrastructure like the resort structure, staff buildings, chair lift, and adjacent structures.

Summer Months Dedication:

Throughout the Summer of 2023, Mount Baldy residents demonstrated an unwavering dedication to their FireSmart goals. Individual property owners worked diligently on implementing recommended mitigation measures, ensuring a collective effort to enhance the overall wildfire resiliency of the community. This collaborative spirit not only strengthened the community bonds but also significantly reduced potential wildfire risks.

Partnership with RDKB:

The partnership with RDKB proved instrumental in accessing expert advice and resources. With Carlene Pires coordinating educational initiatives and engagement, and specialists like Dan Stevens conducting assessments, Mount Baldy benefited from a holistic approach to wildfire mitigation. Regular communication and collaboration fostered a sense of shared responsibility among community members.

Outcome and Future Plans:

Mount Baldy’s FireSmart initiative has not only increased awareness but also translated into tangible actions that enhance the community’s wildfire resilience. The thorough assessments, targeted mitigation efforts, and community engagement exemplify the commitment of Mount Baldy residents to safeguarding their homes and surroundings. Moving forward, the community aims to sustain these efforts, continuously adapting and evolving to meet emerging challenges.

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