Extra caution urged in hot, dry weather

Small campfires are currently permitted throughout B.C., so long as recreationalists and campers exercise caution

Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations

The provincial Wildfire Management Branch is fully prepared for the 2013 wildfire season, but B.C. residents need to be especially careful in the outdoors in hot and dry weather, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson said Sunday.

“Human-caused wildfires are serious threats because they often happen near homes and developed areas,” Thompson said. “It’s important to respect the use of fire. Once you start a campfire, you are legally responsible for making sure it doesn’t escape and that it is completely extinguished before you leave the area.”

The warm temperatures that most of B.C. is experiencing continue to dry out forest fuels and grasslands, which is resulting in increased Fire Danger Ratings throughout the province. The ratings this morning are mostly “moderate” or “low”, but are already “high” in some areas.

Small campfires are currently permitted throughout B.C., so long as recreationalists and campers exercise caution and follow campfire regulations.

Campfire safety information:

* Always check to find out if any open burning prohibitions or campfire bans are in effect in your area, by visiting the Wildfire Management Branch website: www.bcwildfire.ca

* If you are within the jurisdication of a fire department, check with local authorities before lighting any fire, since they could have their own prohibitions in place.

* If campfires are allowed in your area, bring a shovel or keep at least eight litres of water nearby to properly extinguish your campfire.

* Campfires cannot be larger than 0.5 metres in height and 0.5 metres in diameter.

* Do not light a campfire or keep it burning in windy conditions. Weather can change quickly and the wind may carry embers to other combustible material and start new fires.

* You must maintain a one-metre fireguard around the campfire. This is a fuel-free area where all flammable materials (grass, kindling, etc.) have been removed.

* Never leave a campfire unattended.

* Make sure that the campfire is completely extinguished and the ashes are cold to the touch before leaving the area for any length of time. Also ensure that cigarette butts are properly extinguished and are not tossed away carelessly.

* You may be held accountable for damages and fire suppression costs if your negligence results in 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.

The Province thanks the public for its ongoing help in preventing wildfires. To report a wildfire or unattended campfire, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or call *5555 on your cellphone.