With the arrival of higher temperatures and drier conditions, wildfire danger ratings are climbing in many parts of the province.
British Columbians need to exercise caution over the Canada Day long weekend to help prevent human-caused wildfires.
Campfires are currently permitted in all of the province’s six fire centres, but Category 2 and Category 3 open fires are prohibited in many parts of British Columbia to reduce wildfire risks and protect public safety. A poster explaining the different categories of open burning is available online at: http://ow.ly/jdO5301kS32
Detailed information about current burning restrictions is available on the BC Wildfire Service website at: http://bcfireinfo.for.gov.bc.ca/hprScripts/WildfireNews/Bans.asp
Local governments could also have their own burning restrictions in place, so also always check with local authorities before lighting any fire of any size. The use of fireworks is also prohibited in many areas of British Columbia.
So far this season, the BC Wildfire Service has responded to 427 wildfires, 288 of which were caused by people. Human-caused fires are completely preventable and unnecessarily tie up firefighting resources that could be used to deal with naturally occurring wildfires.
Here’s some important information about campfire safety:
- Have a shovel or at least eight litres of water available nearby to properly extinguish your campfire.
- Campfires can not be larger than 0.5 metres high by 0.5 metres wide.
- Do not light a campfire or keep it burning in windy conditions. Weather can change quickly and the wind may carry embers to other combustible material.
- Maintain a one-metre fireguard around the campfire. This is a fuel-free area where all flammable materials (grass, kindling, etc.) have been removed.
- Never leave a campfire unattended.
- Make sure that the campfire is completely extinguished and the ashes are cold to the touch before leaving the area for any length of time.
Anyone operating motorized vehicles in the backcountry must also exercise caution, since the heat from an exhaust pipe — particularly in tall, dry grass — could ignite a wildfire.
The government’s Natural Resource Officers and Conservation Officers conduct regular patrols throughout British Columbia, monitoring high-risk activities and looking out for potential damage. These officers also work closely with BC Wildfire Service staff to investigate the cause of wildfires and any improper use of fire when an open burning prohibition is in effect.
This is an ideal time of the year for homeowners to take simple steps to reduce wildfire risks on private property by using FireSmart principles. Information about fire prevention and the FireSmart program, including the newly updated FireSmart Homeowner’s Manual, is available online at: http://ow.ly/UfWN301GYJW
Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson –
“Anyone planning to go camping or head into the backcountry this weekend must be extremely careful with any use of open fire. Campfires must be completely extinguished and the ashes must be cold to the touch before you leave the area.”
- Anyone found in contravention of a fire prohibition may be issued a ticket for $1,150, required to pay an administrative penalty of $10,000 or, if convicted in court, fined up to $100,000 and/or sentenced to one year in jail. If the contravention causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person responsible may be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.
- The provincial government thanks the public for its help in preventing wildfires. To report a wildfire, an unattended campfire or an open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or call *5555 on a cellphone.