KAMLOOPS – Since the beginning of April, Wildfire Management Branch personnel and municipal fire departments in the Kamloops Fire Centre have responded to a number of wildland fire incidents that resulted from poorly planned open burning.
Provincial fire crews have extinguished wildfires that burned over 100 hectares of land, which is a high level of activity for this time of year. No lightning was detected in the area, so it appears that these fires were all human-caused and thus preventable.
The Wildfire Management Branch recognizes that conducting safe and well-planned open burning is sometimes necessary to manage vegetation and fuel levels, and can also mitigate the spread of future wildfires. However, all such fires must be carefully planned and safeguards put in place before they are ignited.
Always take the following precautions:
• Check with the Wildfire Management Branch, local government and civil authorities for any current burning bylaws or fire restrictions.
• Create a fireguard at least one meter around the planned fire site by clearing away twigs, grass, leaves and other combustible material.
• Don’t let the spread of the fire dictate how big it becomes. Determine the fire’s size and perimeter before you begin burning.
• Avoid large concentrations of fuel in a small area by making sure that the materials you’re burning are spread out evenly.
• If you are planning a large burn, consider conducting smaller burns around the perimeter beforehand to create a fuel break and help stop the fire from spreading beyond its intended size. Each of these fires should be kept small and must be completely extinguished before starting a new fire.
• Do not burn during windy conditions. Weather conditions can change quickly and carry embers to other combustible material and start new fires.
• Never leave a fire unattended.
• Ensure that enough people, water and tools are on hand to control the fire and prevent it from escaping.
• A fire should not be lit near buildings, trees or other combustible material.
• If conducting an open burn near fence posts, power poles or other infrastructure, first remove any flammable material from around the posts and burn a small strip around them before igniting the main fire.
• Make sure that your fire is completely extinguished and the embers are cold before you leave the area.
Anyone planning large-scale industrial burn (Category 3) must call 1 888 797-1717 and obtain a burn registration number ahead of time.
In British Columbia, the Wildfire Act specifies a person’s legal obligations when using fire on or within one kilometer of forestland or grassland. If an outdoor burn escapes and causes a wildfire, the person responsible may be held accountable for damages and fire suppression costs.
To report a wildfire or unattended campfire, call *5555 on your cellphone or call 1-800-663-5555 toll-free.
For the latest information on fire activity, conditions and prohibitions, visit the Wildfire Management Branch website: www.bcwildfire.ca.