With the Oliver fires still a recent memory, BC’s Wildfire Service is urging caution with backcountry activities as hot and dry weather — accompanied by strong gusty winds — is in the forecast throughout the South Okanagan this weekend.
The fire danger rating throughout the region is generally “moderate” to “high”, with many pockets of “extreme.” As these ratings continue to climb, British Columbians are urged to do everything they can to prevent human-caused wildfires.
Although campfires are currently permitted in the South Okanagan, extra care and attention is encouraged. Campfires can be no larger than half-metre wide by half-metre high in size.
- Have a hand tool or at least eight litres of water available nearby to properly extinguish your campfire.
- Do not light a campfire or keep it burning in windy conditions. Weather can change quickly and the wind may carry embers to other combustible material.
- Maintain a one-metre fireguard around the campfire. This is a fuel-free area where all flammable materials (grass, kindling, etc.) have been removed.
- Never leave a campfire unattended.
- Make sure that the campfire is completely extinguished and the ashes are cold to the touch before leaving the area for any length of time. Patrols have found many abandoned campfires throughout the province this summer and extinguishing them detracts from wildfire response efforts.
Open burning is prohibited. The use of fireworks is also prohibited.
Anyone operating motorized vehicles in the backcountry should also exercise caution, since the heat from an exhaust pipe — particularly in tall, dry grass — could easily ignite a wildfire.
The government’s Natural Resource Officers and Conservation Officers conduct regular patrols throughout British Columbia, monitoring high-risk activities and looking out for potential damage and any improper use of fire when an open burning prohibition is in effect. These officers also work closely with BC Wildfire Service staff, who investigate the cause of wildfires.
This year, through noon yesterday, the BC Wildfire Service has responded to 873 wildfires, 403 of which were caused by people. Human-caused fires are completely preventable and divert critical firefighting resources from naturally occurring, lightning-caused wildfires.
Detailed information about current bans and restrictions is available on the BC Wildfire Service website at: http://bcfireinfo.for.gov.bc.ca/hprScripts/WildfireNews/Bans.asp