With B.C. Day around the corner, the provincial government says everyone has a role to play in helping prevent wildfires.
Given the number of fires currently burning in the province, along with elevated fire danger ratings and extremely dry conditions in many parts of the province, the B.C. Wildfire Service is urging residents and visitors to remain vigilant regarding potential fire dangers.
From April 1 to Aug. 1, the B.C. Wildfire Service responded to 852 wildfires in B.C., 341 of which were caused by people.
“Human-caused fires – e.g., from improperly extinguished campfires, discarded cigarettes and sparking vehicles – are completely preventable and unnecessarily tie up crucial firefighting resources that could be used to deal with naturally occurring wildfires,” states a release.
The B.C. Wildfire Service continues to receive reports of illegal campfires. Campfires and open fires are banned throughout the province, with the exception of Haida Gwaii and the west side of Vancouver Island.
“The current open-fire prohibitions do not apply to CSA-rated or ULC-rated cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes, or to a portable campfire apparatus that uses briquettes, liquid or gaseous fuel, as long as the height of the flame is less than 15 centimetres,” states the provincial release.
“Local governments may have their own burning restrictions or bylaws in place, so always check with local authorities before lighting any fire of any size.”
The provincial government’s natural resource officers and conservation officers conduct regular patrols throughout B.C., monitoring high-risk activities and looking out for potential damage. These officers also work closely with B.C. Wildfire Service staff to investigate the cause of wildfires and any improper use of fire when an open burning prohibition is in effect.
“Patrols will be stepped up this weekend to educate the public about fire restrictions and issue violation tickets to people who are not complying with open burning prohibitions,” states the release.
To report a wildfire or open-burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone. To report suspicious activities, environmental damage or a natural-resource violation, call 1 877 952-RAPP (7277) or *7277 on a cellphone.
The B.C. Wildfire Service continues to receive reports of improperly discarded cigarettes. Smokers must dispose of cigarette butts and other smoking material responsibly, making sure that these materials are completely extinguished. Smokers who drop lit or smouldering cigarettes or other items could face a $575 fine under the Wildfire Act.
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 $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.