Burning prohibition announced as temps heat up

Coastal Fire Centre bans category 2 fires

The fire danger rating in the Cowichan Valley has been upgraded to moderate. (Citizen file)

The fire danger rating in the Cowichan Valley has been upgraded to moderate. (Citizen file)

The weather has just barely reached the temperatures that many associate with spring and summer, but slowly but surely it is getting warmer out there and the folks are the Coastal Fire Centre have noticed.

“It’s been a great winter as far as we’re concerned as firefighters,” said fire information officer Donna MacPherson, alluding to the vast snow and rain. “For us, the fire season starts April 1 and we had a nice hydrated forest.”

There have only been 10 fires within the Coastal Fire Centre’s jurisdiction this fire season, and usually by this time of year the average is about 32, MacPherson said.

“That period of cool, damp weather we had in the spring certainly helped that out,” she noted.

And while the occasional storm will no doubt pass through and drench us all, the hot season has arrived and as such, the fire danger rating has been moved up to moderate.

“We’re starting to see that the forest is drying out as we get the warm and dry weather,” MacPherson said.

To that end, a prohibition began at noon on June 7 prohibiting category 2 open fires throughout the Coastal Fire Centre with the exceptions of Haida Gwaii and the “Fog Zone” on the West Coast.

The ban means no fireworks, firecrackers, sky lanterns, burning barrels or burning cages of any size or description, no binary exploding targets, no burning of fires smaller than two metres high and three metres wide and no burning of stubble or grass over an area less than 2,000 square metres. (Those wanting larger, category 3 fires need to get a permit by calling 1-888-797-1717.)

“Campfires and cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes,” are still OK, MacPherson confirmed, but the campfires must remain smaller than a half-metre high by a half-metre wide.

They’re expensive rules to be caught breaking.

Open fire lighters/users could face tickets up to $1,150 or a year in jail and up to $100,000 if convicted. What’s more, if the person causes or contributes to a wildfire, they could face an additional $100,000 penalty as well as be responsible for paying the firefighting and associated costs.

The prohibition will remain in effect until Oct. 20, 2017 or until the public is otherwise notified

To report a wildfire, unattended campfire or open burning violation, 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, visit: www.bcwildfire.ca

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