Hot, dry weather dampens Canada Day fireworks

Due to fire risk, Canada Day fireworks in Gyro have been cancelled this year, but campfires still permitted under strict conditions.

It’s going to be super hot until Sunday which is great news for those looking to catch rays lakeside or in a backyard pool.

The news is not great for the Trail tradition of fireworks on Canada Day since the Southeast Fire Centre issued an open burning and incendiary restriction last week.

Gyro Park fireworks are cancelled for the July 1 holiday due to a fire ban put on by B.C. Forestry, confirmed Clay Alderson from Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Thursday morning.

The centre re-issued the Category 2 restriction effective Wednesday (June 24) following a mostly dry and hot June.

Though the West Kootenay region varies between a moderate and high fire danger rating, campfires are still allowed under certain parameters.

If conditions are favourable, meaning little or no wind, then the fire must be limited to less than a half metre by a half metre.

“Site selection is very important,” says Fire Information Officer Fanny Bernard.

“If you are in a campground then there are the fire pits. If not, the fire must be well enough away from combustible materials like root systems. It must be on mineral soil with a metre fireguard that is clear from flammable debris such as overhanging branches.”

She explained the risk of “holding” fires is up in the region after a series of lightning strikes on June 23.

“What happens is lightning can ignite a tree, spark and explode then scatter burning parts of the tree,” said Bernard, adding with little rain the fire can smoulder for a long period of time with little or no visible smoke.

“The long days of sun can spark the fire up again which is a big possibility now, so it’s important we reduce human-caused fires to zero so crews can respond to lightning-caused (holding) fires,” she added.

Bernard reminds the public that flames can escape quickly so it’s crucial to always be in arms reach of the campfire.

“I think it’s really important for people to know that when they have a campfire, unattended means you are leaving the area for any amount of time,” she said. “That means turning in for the night, fishing for a few hours or going on a quick hike. If you are leaving for any amount of time, the fire has to be put out.”

Ashes have to be cool to the touch, which means at least eight litres of water need to be on hand along with a hand tool such as a shovel, to stir the cinders and ensure water soaks deep enough to completely extinguish the fire.

“People are surprised how quickly a fire can spark and how quickly the wind can carry it to combustible material,” said Bernard. “That’s why site selection is important and also, if it’s windy enough to carry embers or sparks, then it’s not a good day for a campfire.”

She encourages anyone who sees smoke to report it, and don’t assume someone else has called it in.

To report a wildfire or unattended camp fires, call 1.800.663.5555 or (star)*5555 on a cellphone.

The ongoing hot and mostly dry weather pattern is unseasonable for June, says Jesse Ellis, the centre’s forecaster.

Usual temperatures are a high of 25 C, he explained, adding many days of the month hit ranges from the low to mid 30’s C setting new daily maximums.

“By the way it’s already 25 right now,” he told the Trail Times early Thursday morning referring to additional daily record temperatures expected until Saturday.

The all time high for the month is 37.9 C and with a continuing upper ridge of high pressure building from the southwestern United States, chances are the record could be broken over the weekend.

“That’s what we are shooting to beat,” said Ellis. “And I think we will.”

The hot and less humid trend is forecast to end Sunday when moisture from the south is forecast to bring clouds and thunderstorms by evening.