Majority of forest fires caused by humans, so be fire aware

As the temperatures increase, so does the risk of fire; so take care when you go into the wild

  • Jul. 2, 2014 8:00 a.m.

Anyone planning to go camping in B.C. this summer should remember provincial rules about campfire safety.

Although large-scale open burning is now prohibited in many regions of the province, small and contained campfires are currently permitted in all six of B.C.’s fire centres. Here’s some important information about campfire use:

– Always find out if any burning prohibitions are in effect in your location. Check the Wildfire Management Branch website at www.bcwildfire.ca.

– If campfires are allowed in your area, be sure to bring a shovel or keep at least eight litres of water nearby to properly extinguish your campfire.

– Campfires cannot be larger than 0.5 metres in height and 0.5 metres in diameter.

– Do not light a campfire or keep it burning in windy conditions. Weather can change quickly and the wind may carry embers to other combustible material and start new fires.

– You must maintain a one-metre fireguard around the campfire. This is a fuel-free area where all flammable materials (grass, kindling, etc.) have been removed.

– Never leave a campfire unattended.

– Make sure that the campfire is completely extinguished and the ashes are cold to the touch before leaving the area for any length of time. Also ensure that cigarette butts are properly extinguished and are not tossed away carelessly.

Anyone found in contravention of an open fire prohibition may be issued a ticket for $345 or, if convicted in court, fined up to $100,000 and sentenced to one year in jail. If the contravention causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person responsible may be subject to a penalty of up to $10,000 and ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.

So far this season, the Wildfire Management Branch has responded to more than 300 wildfires, the vast majority of which were caused by people. Every human-caused fire is preventable.

This time of year, before wildfire risks increase significantly throughout the province, is an ideal time for individual homeowners and communities to take simple steps to reduce the potential impacts of wildfire. Be proactive, be practical, and be FireSmart. To report a wildfire or an unattended campfire, call 1-800-663-5555 toll-free or call *5555 on your cellphone.

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