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Posted: August 19, 2016

Potential for volatile weekend: BC Wildfire Service

Hot and dry weather is in the forecast throughout the province this weekend, along with strong, gusty winds. The BC Wildfire Service is preparing for increased wildfire activity and urges the public to be cautious with any activities in the backcountry.

From April 1, until noon yesterday, the BC Wildfire Service responded to 873 wildfires, 403 of which were caused by people. Human-caused fires are completely preventable and divert critical firefighting resources from naturally occurring, lightning-caused wildfires.

The fire danger rating throughout the province is generally “moderate” to “high”, with many pockets of “extreme.” As these ratings continue to climb, British Columbians are urged to do everything they can to prevent human-caused wildfires.

Campfires are currently prohibited throughout the Coastal Fire Centre (with the exception of Haida Gwaii and the area known as the “Fog Zone”) and in parts of the Northwest Fire Centre. Campfires are currently permitted throughout the rest of the BC Wildfire Service’s jurisdiction.

Category 2 and Category 3 open fires are prohibited in many parts of B.C. to help reduce wildfire risks and protect public safety. The use of fireworks is also prohibited in many areas. Detailed information about current bans and restrictions is available on the BC Wildfire Service website.

“Given the weather forecast this weekend, the wildfire threat in B.C. will almost certainly increase. I’d like to remind all British Columbians to be extra vigilant and follow the rules while enjoying the outdoors this weekend,” said Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson.

Local governments may also have their own burning restrictions in place, so always check with local authorities before lighting any fire of any size.

Here’s some important information about campfire safety if you’re in an area where campfires are permitted:

Have a hand tool or at least eight litres of water available nearby to properly extinguish your campfire.

Campfires cannot 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.

Patrols have found many abandoned campfires throughout the province this summer and extinguishing them detracts from wildfire response efforts.

Anyone operating motorized vehicles in the backcountry must also exercise caution, since the heat from an exhaust pipe – particularly in tall, dry grass – could easily ignite a wildfire.

Natural Resource OfficerThe government’s Natural Resource Officers and Conservation Officers conduct regular patrols throughout British Columbia, monitoring high-risk activities and looking out for potential damage and any improper use of fire when an open burning prohibition is in effect. These officers also work closely with BC Wildfire Service staff, who investigate the cause of wildfires.

Anyone found in contravention of an open 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.

To report a wildfire, unattended campfire or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or call *5555 on a cellphone.


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