Provincial fire ban in effect

As of noon on Friday, July 13, all open fires are prohibited within the Southeast Fire Centre.

As of noon on Friday, July 13, all open fires are prohibited within the Southeast Fire Centre, the area extending from the U.S. border in the south to Mica Dam in the north and from the Okanagan Highlands and Monashee Mountains in the west to the B.C.-Alberta border in the east. This includes the Selkirk and Rocky Mountain districts, and therefore the region around Nakusp.

The ban is going into effect to help prevent human-caused wildfires and protect public safety, said the Ministry, and will remain in place until Sept. 19, or until the public is otherwise notified.

But it doesn’t mean the end of all things barbeque, as this prohibition does not include campfires, gas or propane cooking stoves or briquettes. It also doesn’t apply to a resource management open fire.

Specifically, this prohibits: the burning of any waste, slash or other material; the burning of stubble or grass; the use of fireworks or burning barrels of any size or description. Thank goodness Canada Day has come and gone.

Campfires must not be larger than 0.5 metres by 0.5 metres in size, and anyone lighting a campfire must maintain a fireguard by removing flammable debris from around the campfire area and must have a hand tool or at least eight litres of water available nearby to properly extinguish the fire. Have your shovels and buckets at hand, and be vigilant like Smokey!

To ensure a safe and relaxing time around a fire, follow a few sensible rules.

Campfires should not be lit or kept burning during windy conditions. Never leave a fire unattended. Make sure that the fire is completely extinguished and the embers are cold before leaving the area.

This 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. Please check with civic authorities for any prohibitions before lighting a fire. When in doubt, check it out with your local fire chief.

Now here are some consequences of the monetary kind: anyone found in contravention of an open fire prohibition may be issued a ticket for $345 or, if convicted in court, be fined up to $100,000 and sentenced to one year in jail.

Anyone who causes a wildfire through arson or recklessness can be fined up to $1 million or spend three years in prison and be held accountable for associated firefighting costs.

Not only that, but causing a big fire will make you unpopular with all sorts of people and animals, so keep it small and safe.

Crews from the Southeast Fire Centre have responded to 21 wildfires since April 1 (20 caused by humans and one caused by lightning), which have burned a total of 290 hectares.

Report a wildfire or unattended campfire by calling *5555 on your cellphone or 1 800 663-5555 toll-free.

For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning prohibitions, road closures and air quality advisories, visit: http://www.bcforestfireinfo.gov.bc.ca.