Dry conditions spark warning about outdoor burning

Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Service responded to a lawn burning that got away from a Fruitvale homeowner.

Spring hasn’t officially sprung, yet regional fire crews have already been called to douse a backyard grass fire.

Fire Chief Terry Martin is reminding the public to be diligent if burning debris is part of spring clean-up this year. For those allowed to burn, he said to ensure enough people, water and tools are on hand to control the fire and prevent it from escaping.

At the beginning of March, a Fruitvale homeowner was burning off some dead field grass when a gust of wind spread the fire.

The resident was able to control the flames until Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue was on scene, which helped contain the fire to a small area, Martin explained.

“Our area has experienced some remarkable conditions for quite some time now, causing the conditions to be extremely dry.” he said. “With the extended forecast showing little precipitation, we must all be careful during this run of early spring conditions.”

The unseasonably mild temperatures, and low relative humidity had the Southeast Fire Centre issuing a similar message Friday.

Warm temperatures and rapid snow melt uncovers dried grass from last summer, which is highly flammable material that can easily spark a wildfire. Almost all wildfires this time of year are caused by people, prompting the centre to ask all residents to exercise caution with any outdoor burning activities due to the increased risk in the region.

Residential property owners in Area A and Area B are governed by the centre’s open burning policy which allows small fires of twigs, grass leaves and other combustible materials.

Where open burns are allowed, residents are advised to first check the venting conditions, which is a term used in air pollution meteorology, on the Environment Canada website.

If the rating is poor or fair, then open burning is restricted. According to the centre’s Castlegar-based office Monday, the venting index in the region is poor, measuring 11 on a scale of zero to 33.

The City of Trail and Village of Fruitvale have a year-round ban on open burning, while the Village of Warfield does not require permits for open burning from Nov. 1 to April 30.

Rossland allows the practise with a special burning permit that passes the current smoke ventilation index.

Besides raking and gathering compost earlier than usual, certain residents may also be getting the itch to start their backyard pool clean-up.

Warfield residents with private swimming pools should take note of the village’s updated bylaw regarding the enclosure requirements.

What’s changed, is that fences cannot have openings greater than 10 centimetres (cm).

Additionally, any gate in the fence can have no openings in it, and the space between the gate and fence cannot be greater than 10 cm when closed.

The enclosure height, which is a minimum of 1.2 metres, remains unchanged.

The City of Trail’s building bylaw requires private pools be enclosed with a secure fence not less than 1.5 metres and openings no greater than five cm.

The rules apply to both underground and portable pools, with the latter dependent upon size and depth.

For further information about private pool regulations in Trail, visit trail.ca and click on Building Bylaw.

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