Forest fire season is upon us

MLA Jackie Tegart writes about something that should concern us all.

  • Jun. 30, 2015 1:00 p.m.

 

It has been a dry spring in Fraser-Nicola, and that means the possibility of wildfire is never far away. The recent fire that threatened homes south of Lytton is a frightening example.

Forest fires are never predictable, but careful planning has put B.C. in a strong position to deal with wildfires this summer.

We enter each forest fire season knowing that almost half of all wildfires in B.C. are caused by humans, which makes wildfire prevention, education, and enforcement top priorities for our government.

Roasting hot dogs and marshmallows over a campfire is a highlight of most family camping trips—when conditions allow it. But we also know campfires are a major cause of wildfires. So in an effort to reduce the number of human-caused wildfires, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations in 2010 reduced the size of legal campfires to a half-metre by a half-metre—about 19 inches square.

There are now online and social media tools to reach even more people in Fraser-Nicola and around the province. The Facebook page BCForestFireInfo has more than 40,000 followers, and @BCGovFireInfo on Twitter has more than 7,800 followers.

You can stay up to date during the fire season with information on evacuation alerts and orders, road closures, and air quality advisories at emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca.

Across B.C. we have more than 1,400 firefighters and support staff on hand for the 2015 wildfire season. We can also call on more than 1,600 contractors and many other resources if necessary, including those from other provinces.

In 2010, the B.C. government opened the $4.5-million Provincial Wildfire Co-ordination Centre in Kamloops, which serves as the province’s nerve centre for wildfire response and management. So when a wildfire is reported, our crews are on it right away.

Anyone who spots a wildfire or unattended campfire should immediately call *5555 on a cellphone or 1-800-663-5555 toll-free.

Forest fire prevention is everyone’s responsibility, and all British Columbians must do their part by learning about safe fire use and obeying all campfire and open burning regulations.

Jackie Tegart

MLA, Fraser-Nicola