Careful with campfires; open fire ban continues

Terrace had the only human-caused fire over the hot and dry weather at the end of July.

The Northwest Fire Centre is reminding residents to put out their campfires after a human-caused fire in the Terrace area late July.

During a period with high fire danger ratings — starting the last weekend of July and continuing through to August— a campfire that wasn’t completely put out lit fire to its surrounding area. It was reported by a hiker before it grew out of control, according to the Northwest Fire Centre, which is responsible for forest-fire protection in this region of B.C.

Since July 14, there have been nine abandoned campfires in the northwest region, three in Terrace, said the centre’s information officer Lindsay Carnes.

“We were pretty disappointed to come across abandoned campfires two weeks in a row,” said Carnes. “It’s time for people to smarten up.”

Dry fuels caused by drier, hotter temperatures mean a higher risk of fires, said Carnes.

And with sunny and warm conditions expected to continue through the long weekend, provincial Wildfire Management Branch officials have a few tips for campfire vigilance.

Remember that campfires cannot be larger than a half-metre wide by a half-metre tall,” said a forest ministry press release today. “You must also create a one-metre, debris-free ring around the fire and have a shovel or at least eight litres of water available nearby to extinguish it properly.

Never leave a campfire unattended. Always ensure that the campfire is completely out and the ashes are cool to the touch before leaving the area,” the release continued.

Human-caused fires make up that largest percentage of forest fires in B.C., with 32 campfires in the province that have grown to wildfires this year.

But they are not the only cause of wildfire.

The last weekend of July, the Northwest Fire Centre brought in extra precautions for a forecast that predicted lightning in already hot and dry conditions.

There ended up being 19 fires in northwestern B.C. caused by lightning, none in the Terrace area.

All of that extra firefighting power was used, including an Electra air tanker, an extra truck, an extra helicopter and two repel teams.

Compared to initial attack crews, repel team members don’t need to establish a land base before they begin to extinguish a fire, which means they can start to work on a fire faster.

Since the start of August, the most major threat of fires has shifted to the Northwest Territories.

Last week, 23 crew members were deployed to Fort Smith, NWT. None were from the Northwest District.

B.C. crews have been sent this year already to Manitoba, Quebec, Ontario and Colorado to assist in wildfires in those areas.

The Northwest Fire Centre would like to remind everyone that the fire prohibition for burning slash and waste, stubble and grass, and banning fireworks is still in effect and will be until August 31.

Anyone found in violation of the ban will be served a minimum $345 fine.

To report a wildfire call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cell phone. For the latest information on fire activity, visit bcwildfire.ca.