(Black Press Media file photo)

Vancouver Island urged to be careful with fire use over long weekend

BC Wildfire Service responded to 696 wildfires between April 1 and Aug. 28

While summer may be wrapping up without the amount of flame and smoke that plagued the past two summers, wildfire season isn’t over just yet.

The Ministry of Forests is urging people on Vancouver Island and across B.C. to be careful about their use of fire over the coming long weekend.

The ministry says there is still potential for forest fuels and grasslands to dry out in many areas of the province with warm weather expected to continue.

There are already wildfires that are burning, with the potential for new, naturally occurring fires. Meanwhile, human-caused fires are preventable.

“I hope that all British Columbians can enjoy the Labour Day long weekend with friends and family,” said Forests Minister Doug Donaldson. “While this fire season hasn’t been as active as the past two summers, we still need everyone to remain vigilant and act responsibly.”

READ ALSO: Latest numbers confirm 2018 was B.C.’s worst wildfire season on record

The BC Wildfire Service responded to 696 wildfires throughout the province between April 1 and Aug. 28. Fifty-seven per cent of those fires were caused by people. Over 21,141 hectares of land have been burned in B.C. since April 1.

Currently, campfires are allowed in all areas of the province that fall under BC Wildfire Service’s jurisdiction but local governments and other authorities like BC Parks have their own restrictions and bylaws that should be checked.

Campfires must not be larger than 0.5 metres high and 0.5 metres wide. The ministry says to never light a campfire or keep it burning in windy conditions because the wind may carry embers to other combustible material.

A fuel-free area where all flammable materials like grass, leaves and kindling are removed down to the soil, should be maintained around the campfire and the fire should never be left unattended.

It is also recommended to have a shovel or at least eight litres of water available to properly extinguish your campfire.

READ ALSO: Slow start to B.C. wildfire season saves province money

Those riding all-terrain vehicles or dirt bikes on Crown land must have a spark arrestor installed on the vehicle. The condition of the muffler should also be checked and buildup from hot spots should be cleared regularly. Smokers are being asked to dispose of cigarette butts responsibly as well.

Provincial conservation officers regularly patrol throughout B.C. and natural resource officers work closely with BC Wildfire Service staff to investigate the cause of wildfires and improper fire use when an open burning ban is in effect.

Anyone found in contravention of an open burning ban could receive a ticket of $1,150 and may have to pay an administrative penalty of up to $10,000. If convicted, they could be fined up to $100,000 or sentenced to one year in jail.

To report a wildfire, unattended campfire or open burning violation, call 1-800-663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.

Up-to-date information on wildfire activity, restrictions and more can be found at www.bcwildfire.ca or by calling 1 888-3-FOREST.

To learn about the FireSmart program, visit www.firesmartbc.ca. More information about open-burning prohibitions and wildfire prevention can be found on the province’s website.


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