Drought conditions keep burning ban in place

Low levels of smoke and fire activity in Greater Trail are expected to continue until the wet weather descends.

Drought-like conditions continue in the West Kootenay-Boundary region, meaning an open burning prohibition will still remain in effect.

The Southeast Fire Centre is continuing its ban—that has been in place since July 13—and will remain in effect until people are otherwise notified, said Karlie Shaughnessy, media information officer with the centre.

Specifically, the prohibitions apply to the burning of piled material, stubble, grass and windrows.

“Open burning prohibitions are implemented to help prevent human-caused wildfires and to protect public safety,” she said in a press release.

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.

Shaughnessy said the prohibition does not apply to campfires, fires in burning barrels, fireworks or cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes. It also does not apply to resource manageme­nt open fires.

Low fire activity has contributed some smoke to the skies in the region, particularly around Christina Lake. A fire burning in nearby Washington State—that has grown from 15 acres last month to 150 acres—continues to cloud the air.

The low levels of smoke and fire activity are expected to continue until the wet fall weather descends.

Until then, campfires in the West Kootenay must not be larger than 0.5 metres by 0.5 metres in size. Anyone lighting a campfire must maintain a fireguard by removing flammable debris around the campfire area and must have a hand tool or at least eight litres of water available nearby to properly extinguish the fire.

The prohibition covers all BC Parks, Crown lands and private lands, but does not apply within the boundaries of local governments—like Trail, Fruitvale, Warfield, Montrose and Rossland—that have forest fire prevention bylaws and are serviced by fire departments.