Caution urged for outdoor burning in Kootenay region

Southeast Fire Centre warns of dry grass conditions

  • Mar. 28, 2013 4:00 p.m.
Grass fires are common in the spring as outdoor burning can quickly get out of control

Grass fires are common in the spring as outdoor burning can quickly get out of control

The Southeast Fire Centre is asking the public to exercise caution with any outdoor burning activities this spring.

As the snow melts, dried grass from last summer is uncovered and that material can be highly flammable. Almost all wildfires at this time of the year are caused by people and are therefore preventable.

Homeowners and industry personnel are encouraged to consult the B.C. FireSmart manual and take the following precautions:

* Ensure that enough people, water and tools are on hand to control the fire

and prevent it from escaping.

* Do not burn during windy conditions. Weather conditions can change quickly

and the wind may carry embers to other combustible material and start new

fires.

* Create a fireguard at least one metre around the planned fire site by

clearing away twigs, grass, leaves and other combustible material.

* 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.

* Never leave a fire unattended and make sure that your fire is completely

extinguished and the ashes are cold to the touch before you leave the area.

If you are planning to do any large-scale industrial burning or conduct a grass burn over 0.2 hectares (Category 3 fires), you must obtain a burn registration number ahead of time by calling 1 888 797-1717.

Venting conditions should always be checked before conducting an open burn.

If conditions are rated “Poor” or “Fair”, open burning is restricted. The venting index can be found at:

http://www.bcairquality.ca/readings/ventilation-index.html.

In British Columbia, the Wildfire Act specifies a person’s legal obligations when using fire on or within one kilometre of forest land or grassland. If an outdoor burn escapes and causes a wildfire, the person responsible may be held accountable for damages and fire suppression costs.

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