Northwest BC open fire ban takes hold July 13

Not included are campfires, gas or propane cooking stoves and briquettes.

NORTHWEST B.C. will have a ban on open fires carrying a $345 fine for non-compliance, starting July 13.

Even though there is no lightning forecast, the move by the Northwest Fire Centre is a precaution because of the hot and dry weather that is expected at least until next Thursday.

So far this year, there have been 352 wildfires in B.C., 18 the northwest. That’s one more fire than was reported up to the same date last year.

But this year there have been only 15 hectares burned compared to the 11,000 hectares that burned last year, mostly due to Tisigar Lake fire last June. In the northwest region, seventy per cent of fires in 2011 were human-caused. That number jumps to 100 per cent for 2012.

The ban is specifically prohibiting burning waste, slash or other material, burning stubble or grass, and the use of fireworks or fire barrels.

Not included are campfires, gas or propane cooking stoves and briquettes.

Still, campers are asked not have fires larger than half a square metre or during strong winds. In addition, other precautions recommended are making sure the fire is cold before leaving the area, having eight litres of water or a hand tool available to extinguish an out-of-control campfire, and of course to never leave a fire unattended.

“Reporting is key to our success,” said Stephanie Little, at Northwest Fire Centre.

Earlier in the fire season, B.C. firefighters were being deployed to other parts of the country that were in need of assistance. Now all parts of the country are in the same situation: hot and dry. No provinces have requested additional firefighters, including B.C.

Last year, more than $3 million was spent fighting forest fires across the region. The Northwest Fire Centre has spent approximately $180,000 this year to date.

To report a wildfire or unattended campfire, call *5555 on your cellphone or 1800-663-5555 toll-free. For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning prohibitions, road closures and air quality advisories, visit: http://bcwildfire.ca