In anticipation of the August long weekend, the Cariboo Fire Centre is joining several centres around the province and putting in a campfire ban for the southern portions of the region.
The ban goes into effect at noon on Thursday, Aug. 1.
Areas affected are from Quesnel-Chilcotin/Central Cariboo forest districts boundary, heading east to Highway 97, south to 150 Mile House, east along the Redeaux Lake Fire Service Road, then following the Central Cariboo-100 Mile House forest districts boundary. It extends east to Wells Gray Provincial Park, south to Loon Lake near Clinton and west to Tweedsmuir Provincial Park.
A map of the area covered by the campfire ban is available online.
Bans are going up in other areas of the province including the entire Kamloops and Bella Coola regions, and the southeast is planning to put one in effect on Monday, CFC fire information officer Greig Bethel said Wednesday.
“Traditionally a campfire ban has always been brought in before the long weekend if conditions call for it. Within the CFC the fire danger rating is currently high, with scattered pockets of extreme.”
So far in 2013 there have been a total of 75 fires and 59 of them have been human-caused.
“That’s about 78 per cent and that is way above average,” Bethel said, adding the 10-year average for the Cariboo is 33 per cent person-caused fires.
Besides, he added: “Human-caused wildfires can divert critical resources and crews from responding to naturally occurring wildfires.”
Throughout the entire region, open burning is prohibited and applies to open fires of any size, industrial or backyard burning, fireworks, tiki torches, sky lanterns and burning barrels.
The campfire prohibition does not apply to cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes, or to portable campfire apparatus with a CSA or ULC rating that uses briquettes, liquid or gaseous fuel, as long as the height of the flame is less than 15 centimetres.
The open burning prohibition covers all BC Parks, Crown and private lands, but does not apply within the boundaries of local governments that have forest fire prevention bylaws and are serviced by a fire department.
Rural residents are asked to check with local governments for any other restrictions before lighting a fire.
Anyone found in violation of an open fire ban, including campfires, may be issued a ticket of up to $345 and anyone who causes a wildfire through arson or recklessness may be fined up to $1 million, spend up to three years in prison and be held accountable for associated firefighting costs.
“We have had to ticket people disregarding the open fire prohibition,” Bethel confirmed. “There have been written warnings and verbal warnings.”
The campfire prohibition will remain in place until Sept. 30 or until the public is informed otherwise.
Bethel said the ban only impacts half the region because of its diversity.
“That’s what makes this fire centre such a challenge,” he said. “There are 14 bio-ecological zones in B.C. and the Cariboo has 11 of them so it’s pretty diverse. It goes from the grasslands in the Churn Creek area, lodgepole pine in the Chilcotin to the cedars in the Quesnel Lake area.”
Crew members at CFC are presently at the base waiting for their next deployment, although an air tanker left the base at Williams Lake airport Tuesday to drop retardant on a fire near Valemount, Bethel said.
To report a wildfire or noncompliant open burning, call 1-800-663-5555 toll-free or dial *5555 on a cellphone.
For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, visit the Wildfire Management Branch website: www.bcwildfire.ca.
With files from the Cariboo Fire Centre