Open fires still prohibited in Southeast Fire Centre

Despite the relatively cool weather of last week, open fires remain banned in the Kootenays.

Despite the relatively cool weather of last week, open fires remain banned in the Kootenays.

“Open fires remain prohibited within the Southeast Fire Centre to help prevent human-caused wildfires and protect public safety,” noted Fanny Bernard, fire information officer at the Southeast Fire Centre.

“This prohibition will remain in place until the public is otherwise notified.”

The prohibited activities include 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.

“This prohibition does not ban campfires that are a half-metre high by a half-metre wide or smaller, and it does not apply to cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes.” Bernard said.

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

“Please ensure that campfires are not lit or kept burning during windy conditions,” Bernard said. “Make sure the fire is fully extinguished and the ashes are cold to the touch before leaving the area for any length of time.”

The prohibition covers all BC Parks, Crown land and private land, but does not apply within the boundaries of a local government that has forest fire prevention bylaws and is serviced by a fire department. Check with local authorities for any other restrictions before lighting a fire.

If you don’t adhere to the prohibition you could be issued a ticket for $345 or, if convicted in court, fined up to $100,000 and sentenced to one year in jail. If the fire causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person responsible may be subject to a penalty of up to $10,000 and be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.

The Southeast Fire Centre covers the area extending from the U.S.A. border in the south to Mica Dam in the north and from the Okanagan Highlands and Monashee Mountains in the west to the B.C.-Alberta border in the east. It includes the Selkirk Natural Resource District and the Rocky Mountain Natural Resource District.

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 www.bcwildfire.ca