Fire safety urged for BC Day weekend

It’s going to be hot — and dry — this B.C. Day long weekend and that has the provincial wildfire service worried as it enters it most active part of the season.

The service is asking those heading out for a weekend of fun to do everything they can to prevent wildfire — 60 percent of which this season have been human-caused.

“BC Wildfire Service crews have been doing a great job attacking this year’s fires quickly and decisively, but it’s important that we don’t get complacent about wildfire risks,” said Doug Donaldson, the provincial Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

“I encourage everyone to enjoy the outdoors responsibly this weekend and ensure that their activities don’t trigger new fires.”

While wildfire activity so far this year has been relatively normal, the month of August is typically the most active part of B.C.’s wildfire season.

Campfires are currently allowed in parks within the South Okanagan region but campers are being urged to practise responsible fire use by assessing their environment and keeping an ample supply of water nearby to fully extinguish any recreational fire they light.

Campfire safety and fire precautions:

  • Campfires must not be larger than 0.5 metres high or 0.5 metres wide.
  • Never light a campfire or keep it burning in windy conditions. Weather can change quickly and wind may carry embers to other combustible material.
  • Maintain a fireguard around the campfire. This is a fuel-free area where all flammable materials (grass, leaves, kindling, etc.) have been removed right down to the soil.
  • Never leave a campfire unattended.
  • Have a shovel or at least eight litres of water available to properly extinguish your campfire.
  • Make sure the ashes are cool to the touch before retiring for the night or leaving the area for any length of time.

Other precautions:

  • Anyone riding an all-terrain vehicle or dirt bike on Crown land must have a spark arrestor installed on the vehicle. Check the condition of the muffler, regularly clear buildups of grass or other vegetation from hot spots, stay on dirt paths and avoid tall grass and weeds to help reduce wildfire risks.
  • Smokers must dispose of cigarette butts and other smoking materials responsibly, ensuring those materials are completely extinguished.

Not all British Columbians will be taking a break this weekend.

Conservation officers conduct regular patrols throughout British Columbia, while natural resource officers from the Compliance and Enforcement Branch work closely with BC Wildfire Service staff to investigate the cause of wildfires and any improper fire use when an open burning prohibition is in effect.

By the way, 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, unattended campfire or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.

For up-to-date information on wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, call 1 888 3-FOREST or visit: www.bcwildfire.ca.

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