Help pre­vent wild­fires on the B.C. Day long week­end

The Prince George Citizen - - Front Page - Cit­i­zen staff

With in­creas­ing tem­per­a­tures and drier con­di­tions in many parts of the prov­ince, British Columbians are urged to do ev­ery­thing they can to pre­vent wild­fires on the B.C. Day long week­end and in the weeks ahead.

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.

Hu­man-caused fires are com­pletely pre­ventable and un­nec­es­sar­ily di­vert cru­cial fire­fight­ing re­sources from nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring wild­fires.

From April 1 un­til noon on July 31, the BC Wild­fire Ser­vice re­sponded to 579 wild­fires through­out B.C., 58 per cent of which were 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, 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.”

Camp­fires are cur­rently al­lowed in all ar­eas of the prov­ince that fall un­der the BC Wild­fire Ser­vice’s ju­ris­dic­tion.

Nonethe­less, peo­ple are 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.

In­for­ma­tion about cur­rent open burn­ing pro­hi­bi­tions is avail­able on the BC Wild­fire Ser­vice web­site at: www.gov.bc.ca/wild­fire­bans.

Lo­cal gov­ern­ments and other juris­dic­tional au­thor­i­ties (e.g. BC Parks) may also have their own burn­ing re­stric­tions or by­laws in place. It is im­por­tant that peo­ple check with these lo­cal au­thor­i­ties be­fore light­ing any fire.

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.

The govern­ment’s 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.

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 1-800-6635555 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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