An abandoned campfire on the Bond Lake Road discovered Thursday morning, just days prior to the one-year anniversary of the Cariboo wildfires of 2017, was a stark reminder that campfires need to be watched at all times and extinguished, said Williams Lake’s new Fire Chief Erick Peterson.
“You have to make sure a fire is out before you leave,” Peterson said as he and Assistant Chief Joan Flaspohler investigated the fire.
A local resident told the Tribune there was a party at the site Wednesday night and some of the neighbours had gone in Thursday to clean up the area when they discovered the fire wasn’t out.
Peterson said a fire extinguisher wouldn’t be enough so they decided the fire department would return with Engine 11 to put it out completely.
Flaspohler said the fire was within the Cariboo Regional District boundary where campfires are still permitted, although she reminded the public all fires cannot be bigger than .5 metres in height and width.
“In city boundaries we have a bylaw and there are different requirements for campfires that must be complied with,” she added.
OPEN AIR FIRES
No person shall light, ignite, start or maintain, or allow or cause to be lighted, ignited, started or maintained, any open air fire, except;
a) outdoor cooking fires provided the fire is contained in a device or fixture designed for such purposes and the fire is only burning briquettes;
b) outdoor fire pits approved by the Fire Chief for use in licensed campgrounds for tourist parks;
c) factory made fire pits listed for use in a backyard shall be permitted (use of these units shall follow the requirements in schedule “F”);
d) fires deemed necessary for municipal burning; and
e) fires lit for Fire Department training exercises
CITY OF WILLIAMS LAKE FIRE PROTECTION & CONTROL BYLAW NO. 2189
BACKYARD FIRE PIT REQUIREMENTS
a) the fire must be contained in a factory manufactured fire pit
b) the fire pit must be located at least 20 feet from any property lines and buildings and 10 feet from all grass, shrubbery, wood or other combustible material;
c) fire pit must be located on a level non combustible surface;
d) a garden hose or immediate source of water must be at the fire site at all times the fire is lit;
e) the fire must not be ignited or allowed to burn in strong winds;
f) the fire must be attended to and supervised by an adult at all times the fire is lit;
g) the fire must not emit heavy smoke or noxious odors;
h) the fire must be fully extinguished when not used;
i) the fire must not be used to burn residential waste, including yard material, garden waste or debris;
j) the fire must not be used to burn construction waste or demolition debris;
k) only clean dry wood with a maximum thickness of 3 inches is permitted to be burned;
l) the fire must be extinguished by 11 p.m.
Peterson arrived on Tuesday, July 3 from Delta where he worked with the fire department there for 15 years.
He said this week he had met all the paid-on-call firefighters and the career staff.
“It’s going really well and they are all helping me transition into my new position,” he said. “Everyone has been awesome.”
As July gets underway, conditions are not as dry as they were at this time last year when on July 7 several wildfires were ignited when a lightning storm passed through the region.
Between May 1 and July 4 the Williams Lake area received more than double the amount of rain compared to last year.
Environment and Climate Change Canada’s historical data records show 17.2 millimetres of precipitation fell in May, 61.8 mm in June and in the first two days of July 10.2 mm.
In 2017, the Williams Lake area received 31.6 mm in May, nine mm in June and zero precipitation in July.