Wildfire season is slowly coming to an end, as the Southeast Fire Centre has reinstated open burning effective Monday.
While the Fire Danger rating in the Cranbrook and Kimberley area is low to moderate now that the season is all but over, however, it was one of the worst on record.
In the middle of September, B.C. Finance minister Mike de Jong reported that wildfire fighting costs had reached $380 million, even though the province had only budgeted $60 million.
The Testalinden Creek fire south of Penticton is the only active Wildfire of Note in the province, which has burned since August, consuming 5,202 hectares and is 95 per cent contained.
Even though open fires are now permitted in the Southeast Fire Centre, the BC Wildfire Service is asking the public to remain vigilant with any fire use.
Homeowners and industry personnel are encouraged to take the following precautions when conducting any outdoor burning:
•Ensure that enough people, water, tools, equipment and a fire suppression system are on hand to control the fire and to prevent it escaping.
•Do not burn in windy conditions. The weather can change quickly and the wind may carry embers to other combustible material and start new fires.
•Establish an adequate fuel break around the planned fire site by clearing away twigs, grass, leaves and other combustible material.
•Never leave a fire unattended.
•Make sure your fire is completely extinguished and the ashes are cold to the touch before you leave the area for any length of time.
Anyone planning to conduct Category 3 fires or large-scale industrial burning must obtain a burn registration number ahead of time by calling 1 888 797-1717.
In British Columbia, the Wildfire Act specifies a person’s legal obligations when using open fire on or within one kilometre of forest land or grassland. Anyone found in contravention of an open burning prohibition may be issued a ticket for $345, required to pay an administrative penalty of $10,000 or, if convicted in court, 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.
To report a wildfire or unattended campfire, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.
For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, go to: http://www.bcwildfire.ca