On Wednesday the Cariboo Fire Centre put out a notice encouraging the public to exercise caution with any outdoor burning activities, due to an increased wildfire risk in the region.
The grass and small shrub layer is unseasonably dry, and the Cariboo Fire Centre is experiencing fire behaviour and conditions normally not seen this early in the season, the fire centre said in a press release Wednesday. Dead grasses have dried out quickly in snow-free areas due to increased temperatures, wind and lack of precipitation.
Anyone wishing to light an open fire must watch for changing weather conditions and follow all burning regulations in order to reduce the number of preventable wildfires.
While FireSmart activities are encouraged at this time of year to mitigate interface wildfire risks, there is a safe way to conduct backyard burning. Homeowners and industry personnel are encouraged to visit the Wildfire Management Branch website: www.bcwildfire.ca/Prevention consult the B.C. FireSmart manual and take the following precautions:
* Ensure that enough people, water and tools are on hand to control the fire and prevent it from escaping.
* Do not burn during windy conditions. Weather conditions can change quickly, and the wind may carry embers to other combustible material and start new fires.
* Create a fireguard at least one metre around the planned fire site by clearing away twigs, grass, leaves and other combustible material.
* If you are planning a large burn, consider conducting smaller burns around the perimeter beforehand to create a fuel break and help prevent the fire from spreading beyond its intended size. Each of these fires should be kept small and must be completely extinguished before starting a new fire.
* Never leave a fire unattended.
* Make sure that your fire is completely extinguished and the ashes are cold to the touch before you leave the area for any length of time.
Before conducting a burn, check with your local fire department, municipality and regional district to find out if any open burning restrictions or bylaws are in effect.
If you are planning to do any large-scale industrial burning or conduct a grass burn over 0.2 hectares (Category 3 fires), you must obtain a burn registration number ahead of time by calling 1-888-797-1717.
Always check the venting conditions before conducting an open burn. If venting conditions are rated “Poor” or “Fair”, open burning is restricted. The venting index can be found at: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/epd/epdpa/venting/venting.html
Anyone who lights, fuels or uses an open fire when a fire prohibition is in place or fails to comply with an open-fire prohibition may be issued a ticket for $345 or, if convicted in court, be 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 subject to a penalty of up to $100,000 and ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.
Up-to-date information on burning restrictions and current wildfire activity can be obtained online at: http://www.bcwildfire.ca or by calling 1 888 3-FOREST.