Take care with outdoor burning

Southeast Fire Centre warns that grass from last summer is highly flammable.

Take care with outdoor burning this spring, urges the Southeast Fire Centre.

Now that the snow has finally left us alone (touch wood), many people around Cranbrook and Kimberley are conducting burning activities.

But it’s important to remember that dried grass from last summer is highly flammable, the fire centre said in a news release last week.

Almost all spring wildfires are caused by people, meaning they are preventable.

Before undergoing a burn, the fire centre asks homeowners and industry personnel to read the B.C. FireSmart manual at bcwildfire.ca/FightingWildfire/safety/pamphlets/FireSmart-BC4.pdf. Here is some advice from the fire centre on staying safe:

* Ensure that enough people, water and tools are on hand to control the fire and prevent it from escaping.

* Do not burn during windy conditions. Weather conditions can change quickly and the wind may carry embers to other combustible material and start new fires.

* Create a fireguard at least one metre around the planned fire site by clearing away twigs, grass, leaves and other combustible material.

* If you are planning a large burn, consider conducting smaller burns around the perimeter beforehand to create a fuel break and help stop the fire from spreading beyond its intended size. Each of these fires should be kept small and must be completely extinguished before starting a new fire.

* Never leave a fire unattended and make sure that your fire is completely extinguished and the ashes are cold to the touch before you leave the area.

Burning yard or garden waste is prohibited inside Cranbrook city limits, the city reminded last week.

If you are planning to conduct a grass burn over 0.2 hectares, you need a burn registration number first. Call 1-888-797-1717 to obtain one.

What’s more, check air quality conditions before lighting to ensure venting conditions are appropriate. A “poor” or “fair” rating means open burning is restricted. Go to  www.bcairquality.ca/readings/ventilation-index.html to check this.

If you light a fire within one kilometre of forest or grassland, you may be held accountable for damages and fire suppression costs if the burn escapes and causes a wildfire.

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.

If you see flames or smoke, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or call *5555 on your cellphone.

For the latest information on fire activity, conditions and prohibitions, visit the Wildfire Management Branch website at: www.bcwildfire.ca.