As of noon Thursday, the Coastal Fire Centre, which covers the Cowichan Valley, has put a stop to all open burning, including campfires in the area.
"This step is being taken to help prevent human-caused wildfires and protect public safety," fire information officer Marg Drysdale said. "The fire danger rating is currently ‘high’ throughout most of the Coastal Fire Centre, with scattered pockets of ‘extreme.’" The ban will remain in place until Oct. 15.
Gas, propane and briquette cooking stoves and portable campfires are still permitted, provided the flame is less than 15 centimetres.
The ban does not apply within the boundaries of local governments that have forest fire prevention bylaws and are serviced by fire departments, although most fire departments in the Cowichan Valley have enacted their own fire bans.
"With the current trend of warm and dry weather, as well as lightning-caused wildfires in the region, human-caused wildfires can divert critical resources and crews needed to fight naturally occurring wildfires," Drysdale said.
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