Restrictions are now in place on burning waste, grass and other materials as the regional open-fire ban came into effect this week.
“It’s just because it’s summer now and we’re expecting some warmer weather,” Karlie Shaughnessy, fire information officer with the Southeast Fire Centre said. “We want to keep the tally on person-caused fires at a minimum.”
Already this year there have been 17 fires within the district, with 14 being person-caused (the other three were due to lightning).
This is still fewer than in 2010, Shaughnessy said, when there were 31 fires reported by this point in the year.
For now, the ban is a preventative measure as lightning fires are expected to be more common.
“We need all our resources to be able to fight those,” she said.
The ban doesn’t prohibit camp fires that are half a metre high by half a metre wide or smaller, or cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes, Shaughnessy said.
People lighting these fires must be able to properly extinguish them, she added, and they must not be lit or kept burning during windy conditions.
This ban only covers BC Parks, Crown and private lands, but does not apply within the City of Castlegar, which has it own bylaws governing burning.
People caught having open fires risk a ticket of $345 or a fine of up to $100,000 and one year of jail.
“Anyone who causes a wildfire through arson or recklessness can be fined up to $1 million or spend three years in prison and be held responsible for suppression costs,” Shaughnessy said.
To report a wildfire or unattended campfire, call *5555 on your cellphone or 1-800-663-5555.
For more information, visit bcforestfireinfo.gov.bc.ca.