Province-wide campfire ban coming Friday

The BC Wildfire Service says it’s implementing a ban on all categories of open fires throughout the province.

The service says with the increased risk of wildfires from current and forecast weather conditions, a provincewide campfire prohibition will take effect at 12 p.m. on Friday, July 12.

The blanket ban prohibits campfires of any size in every region of the province.

The announcement Tuesday comes as a record-breaking heat wave sweeps across B.C.

The service says, “Campfire prohibitions are being enacted to help prevent human-caused wildfires and to protect public safety.”

Sarah Budd, the provincial information officer for BC Wildfire, tells CityNews that the service does not take the decision lightly. 

“Obviously, campfires are an important part of the recreation culture in B.C., and they’re also used for ceremonial purposes by First Nations and Indigenous people, but this is a decision that’s made at the local level by each of these six fire centres when we find that the risk is too high as our conditions dry out,” said Budd.

“We consider the time and the season, our available resources in that capacity, and we use a system called the Fire Weather Index — that is a tool that helps us to assign certain numerical values to what we’re seeing on the landscape and assess them there when the time is right for something like an open burning prohibition.”

In addition to fires, the service says fireworks, sky lanterns, binary exploding targets, air curtain burners, burn barrels or cages of any size, chimineas and tiki or similar torches are also banned.

“During campfire prohibitions, only a CSA-approved or ULC-approved portable campfire apparatus may be used and the flame height must not exceed 15 centimetres,” said Budd.

“So folks can use those portable camping stoves, that meet those requirements, when they’re out recreating, even during a campfire prohibition.”

Anyone found violating the ban may be issued a ticket for $1,150, required to pay an administrative penalty of up to $10,000 or, if convicted in court, fined up to $100,000 and possibly sentenced to one year in jail.

Budd added that public vigilance is a key factor in preventing wildfires.

“As we move into a period of heightened activity, it’s really important that folks are aware of the conditions in their area and keeping an eye on trusted sources of information like our BC Wildfire maps. You can use our mobile app. You can also look to EmergencyInfo BC for broader information.”

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