Nakusp and District Volunteer Fire Department Chief Terry Warren said his crews have already responded to 21 burn complaints this year, which is a substantial increase when comparing the first five months of 2019 to 2020.
Warren said the spike is due to recent changes in provincial fire regulations that were brought on by the COVID-19 crisis.
“Typically, a category two and three fire ban aren’t implemented until after the Canada Day celebrations,” said Warren.
“However, because of the crisis, the B.C. government put the regulations into effect early this year (on April 16).”
With the ban in place, residents are only able to light campfires strictly with firewood.
Warren said he’s had to spend a considerable amount of time informing the public about the regulations over the last two weeks.
“When I see smoke puffing up and I see people burning big fires, I have to attend them and make sure they’re put out properly, stated Warren.
“The worst part is that people are throwing leaves and grass into their fire pit and that’s a huge no-no, to begin with. You’re supposed to compost that material and not smoke out the neighbourhoods.”
Warren also emphasized that Village of Nakusp crews are stopping by peoples’ houses during the first two weeks of May and taking away their compost for free.
Nakusp Fire Department crews haven’t been able to do training over the last six weeks due to physical distance protocols set out by the B.C. government.
The fire department consists of 27 members.