Careful campfires, open burning ban will lower fire risk, officials say

Dry, hot weather has the Northwest Fire Centre warning residents to watch their campfires closely this weekend

Take extra care if you light a campfire this weekend, fire officials say.

Dry, hot weather is in the forecast, and fire danger ratings are already “high” for Houston and throughout most of the Highway 16 corridor.

“Even though it has been a quiet forest fire season so far, people should not become complacent about campfire use or open fires,” said a release by the Northwest Fire Centre on Thursday.

If you do set a campfire, the advisory says, make sure to burn it away from branches, wood or other combustible materials.

Officials are also reminding the public to keep enough people and water nearby to control the fire, watch how the wind is blowing, and be sure the fire is fully out and its embers are cold before leaving a campsite.

Anyone planning a large-scale, Category 3 burn must call 1-888-797-1717 for a burn registration number before they start, and venting conditions should be checked at www.bcairquality.ca to comply with provincial regulations.

Starting at noon on Friday, July 13, all open fires will be banned in the northwest fire district, except for areas on the coast. The ban will last until August 13.

The ban covers burning of any slash or other waste material, the use of fireworks, and the use of any burning barrels.

Campfires and BBQs are not included, though open campfires must be less than half a metre in size, covered by a flameguard, and have eight litres of water or an extinguishing tool nearby.

Anyone who ignores the open fire ban may get a ticket for $345 or, if convicted in court, may be fined up to $100,000 and sentenced to a year in jail.

Anyone who starts a wildfire by arson or reckless behaviour can be fined up to $1 million or spend three years in prison and be held accountable for firefighting costs.

Campfires are not part of that open-fire prohibition.

For maps of the open fire ban area and other forest fire info, visit www.bcwildfire.ca.