With the smoke clearing, a perception of a summer lost lingering in the September air and British Columbians wanting to make the most of a last long weekend before the kids go back to school, the BC Wildfire Service is reminding campers and others venturing into the backcountry the 2018 wildfire season is far from over.
Just to make sure residents are getting the message, the province has formally extended its wildfire-driven provincial state of emergency through Sept. 12.
“Whatever your activities this Labour Day long weekend, remember there are wildfire crews working hard in the bush,” the province is reminding campers. “Please observe campfire bans and exercise caution to prevent human-caused wildfires.”
While temperatures have dropped, some rainfall is falling, and the smoke has cleared throughout most of the province, the risk of wildfires remains high.
“Currently, 518 wildfires are burning in B.C., with 53 wildfires that are highly visible or pose a potential threat to public safety,” the Service is reporting.
Three of those blazes continue to burn just over the mountain from Osoyoos. In the Similkameen, the Cool Creek and Old Tom Creek fires continue to burn out of control while the Snowy Mountain fire is reportedly being held.
“Everyone is urged to use extreme caution with any outdoor activity to ensure no human-caused wildfires are added to an already challenging workload. Human-caused fires are completely preventable and unnecessarily divert firefighting resources from naturally occurring wildfires.”
It has been another tough year for the Service, which responded to more than 2,000 wildfires throughout the province this season. More than 1.25 million hectares have been burned in the province to date, surpassing last year’s record of 1.21 million hectares burned.
Almost one-quarter of those fires were caused by people.
Campfires are still banned throughout the province, with the exception of the “Fog Zone” on the west coast of Vancouver Island and the Peace Forest District and Fort Nelson Forest District in the Prince George Fire Centre.
In the South Okanagan and Similkameen, campfires of any size anywhere are a no-no.
And if you’re thinking the rules don’t apply to you, consider this:
Anyone found in contravention of an open-burning prohibition may be issued a violation ticket for $1,150, may be required to pay an administrative penalty of up to $10,000 or, if convicted in court, may be 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 or open-burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone. For up-to-date information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, call 1 888 3-FOREST or visit: www.bcwildfire.ca.