It is not surprising, given the recent heat waves and sporadic rainfall that have been sweeping over the valley, that the BC Wildfire Service has issued a campfire ban effective noon July 3.
This current prohibition is in addition to the current category 2 and 3 open burning regulations that are already in effect. A complete list of banned activities can be found on the Ministry of Forests website at http://bit.ly/1GlhE9l and include the burning of waste, grass fires, fireworks and the use of forced air burning systems. The ban does not include the use of gas, propane or briquettes or to portable campfire apparatuses, so long as the height of the flame is less than 15 centimeters.
The restrictions have been applied to the Southeast Fire Centre, which extends from the U.S. border in the south to Mica Damn in the north, and from the Okanagan Highlands and Monashee Mountains in the west to the B.C.-Alberta border in the east. It also included the Selkirk Forest District and the Rocky Mountain Forest District.
BC Wildfire Information Officer, Fanny Bernard, explains the ban is in response to the dry fuel conditions and the “enormous amount of dry lightning” that has been keeping their fire crews busy. In 2014 there were a total of 269 fires that BC Wildfire responded to, and as of July 3 there have already been 134 fires; 92 caused by lightning and 42 from human causes. “People would be surprised how fast an aggressive fire can spread,” Bernard continued, “it is important for people to respect this ban so we don’t have to spread our resources fighting preventable fires.”
BC Wildfire responds to all reports of smoke or fire and relies on the public to stay vigilant. “There is no such thing as too many reports,” Bernard affirms, “even if you think someone has called it in, call it in anyway just in case.”
To report a wildfire or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.
Anyone found in contravention of a fire prohibition may be issued a ticket for $345, 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.