Campfire ban temporarily lifted

Due to forecasts for cooler and rainier weather, the Coastal Fire Centre has temporarily lifted the ban on campfires in the region that includes the Cowichan Valley as of noon on Wednesday.

Campfires and open fires in outdoor stoves will be permitted for the time being. With the long-term forecast calling for a return to hot and dry conditions after the coming weekend, the fire ban is expected to return prior to the B.C. Day long weekend on Aug. 2-4. "The public is reminded that campfires cannot be larger than a half-metre high by a half-metre wide," fire information officer Marg Drysdale said. "Anyone who lights a campfire must have a hand tool, such as a shovel, or at least eight litres of water available to fully extinguish it. Never leave a campfire unattended and make sure that the ashes are completely cold to the touch before leaving the area for any length of time."

Still banned within the Coastal Fire Centre are Category 2 backyard burning piles, except within the "fog zone," a two-kilometre wide strip along the west coast of Vancouver Island. Coastal Fire Centre regulations do not cover areas within the boundaries of local governments with their own bylaws and fire departments, so residents should check with their local fire halls.

Anyone found in contravention of an open fire prohibition may be issued a ticket for $345 or, if convicted in court, may 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.

To report a wildfire or unattended campfire, call 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on a cell phone. The latest information is also available at bcwildfire.ca, on Twitter @BCGovFireInfo and on Facebook at facebook.com/BCForestFireInfo