Forest fire. (Supplied by BC Wildfire Service)
With the long weekend just around the corner, the BC Wildfire Service is reminding you to take care in the woods.
While it’s been quiet on the wildfire front so far, August is typically the most active month of B.C.’s wildfire season.
This is why BC Wildfire is stressing vigilance.
The service says human-caused fires are completely preventable and unnecessarily divert crucial firefighting resources from naturally occurring wildfires.
From April 1st to July 29th, BC Wildfire responded to 239 wildfires throughout the province, roughly 85 per cent of which were human caused.
“We know people want to get out into the great outdoors, but it’s important that everyone stay vigilant about fire safety,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.
“Fighting wildfires can be challenging at the best of times, but managing them in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic requires BC Wildfire Service staff to operate with even greater care. I urge everyone to support our crews by using fire responsibly and making sure that their activities don’t spark a wildfire this holiday weekend.”
Campfires are currently allowed in all areas of the province that fall under the BC Wildfire Service’s jurisdiction.
However, you’re urged to use caution and keep an ample supply of water nearby to fully extinguish their campfires.
Larger Category 2 and Category 3 open fires are prohibited in some regions of the province.
Up-to-date information about current open burning prohibitions are available here.
Local governments and other jurisdictions (e.g., BC Parks) may have their own burning restrictions or bylaws in place.
You should also check with those authorities before lighting any fire.
The Wildfire Service is offering these campfire safety and fire precautions heading into the long weekend:
- 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.
- Anyone riding an all-terrain vehicle or dirt bike on Crown land must have a spark arrestor installed on the vehicle. To help reduce wildfire risks, check the condition of the muffler, regularly clear buildups of grass or other vegetation from hot spots, stay on dirt paths and avoid riding in tall grass and weeds.
- Smokers must dispose of cigarette butts and other smoking materials responsibly and ensure those materials are completely extinguished.