With the return of higher temperatures and drier conditions in many parts of the province this week, wildfire danger ratings are once again on the rise.
British Columbians are urged to use caution over the B.C. Day long weekend to prevent human-caused wildfires.
Campfires are currently permitted in all of the province’s six fire centres, but category two and category three open fires are prohibited in many parts of B.C. to reduce wildfire risks and protect public safety.
The use of fireworks is also prohibited in many areas of B.C. A poster explaining the different categories of open burning is available online at: http://ow.ly/jdO5301kS332.
Detailed information about 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 may also have their own burning restrictions in place, so always check with local authorities before lighting any fire of any size.
From April 1, 2016 until noon Thursday, July 28, the BC Wildfire Service responded to 603 wildfires, 201 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 .5 metres high by .5 metres wide
• Do not light 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 B.C., 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.
Homeowners can take simple steps to reduce wildfire risks on their properties by using FireSmart principles.
Information about fire prevention and the FireSmart program, including the FireSmart Homeowner’s Manual and checklist, is available online at: http://ow.ly/UfWN301GYJW.