Open fire ban in effect July 8

The Southeast Fire Centre has placed a prohibition on open fires in its jurisdiction.

As temperatures soar in B.C. the danger of wildfires also rises drastically. Therefore, the Southeast Fire Centre has placed a prohibition on open fires in its jurisdiction.

The centre, based out of Castlegar, announced Wednesday that as of noon, July 8, all open fires are prohibited in the area extending from the U.S. border north to the Mica Dam and from the Okanagan Highlands and Monashee Mountains in the west to the B.C.-Alberta border in the east.

The prohibition is “to help prevent human-caused wildfires and protect public safety,” the centre said in a release. “The prohibition will remain in place until Sept. 20 or until the public is otherwise notified.”

Prohibited activities include: the burning of any waste, slash or other materials; stubble or grass fires of any size over any area; and the use of fireworks, sky lanterns, or burning barrels of any size or description.

The prohibition does not restrict campfires that are a half-metre high by a half-metre wide or smaller, and does not apply to cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes.

Anyone lighting a campfire must maintain a fireguard by removing flammable debris from around the campfire area and must have a hand tool or at least eight litres of water nearby to properly extinguish the fire.

Make sure that that the campfire is fully extinguished and the ashes are cold before leaving the area.

This prohibition covers all BC Parks, Crown and private lands, but does not apply within the boundaries of local governments that have forest fire prevention bylaws and are serviced by a fire department.

Anyone found in contravention of an open fire prohibition may be issued a ticket for $345 or, if convicted in court, be fined up to $100,000 and sentenced to one year in jail.

If the contravention causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person may be subject to a penalty of up to $10,000 and be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.

Crews from the Southeast Fire Centre have responded to 27 wildfires since April 1 (22 caused by humans and five caused by lightning), which have burned a total of 168 hectares.