The dry summer weather has extended the open fire prohibition within the Southeast Fire Centre for another three weeks.
The prohibition includes the burning of any waste, slash or other material, the burning of stubble or grass, and the use of fireworks or burning barrels of any size.
And the dry weather since a record rain in June is the culprit, said Southeast Fire Centre’s fire information officer Karlie Shaughnessy.
“We just haven’t seen the right amount of precipitation to lower our indicies to acceptable levels,” said Shaughnessy. “Right now there’s still a lot of fine fuels and gorge areas that are really dried out and it’s reflecting in our danger rating. We’re still at the moderate to high danger rating, with the exception of the Columbia area which is at low.”
Fast-drying fuels which are less than one quarter-inch in diameter and have a timeline of one hour or less. The ban will remain until Oct. 15, but could be extended if the fall weather patterns do not fall into place.
“It’s pretty dependent on how much rain we see between now and then,” she said. “If we don’t see any rain, it could be extended longer than that.”
Ignoring the prohibition comes at a cost. Someone caught lighting an open fire during the 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.
And if the fire spreads and becomes a wildfire, you had better have good insurance. Anyone who causes a wildfire through arson or recklessness can be fined up to $1 million or spend three years in prison and be held accountable for associated firefighting costs.
Not only has the dry weather been noticeable in the forest, but there’s been a thick blanket of smoke throughout the region said Shaughnessy.
“We’re still seeing a lot of smoke in the area and it’s from all of the fires in Washington,” she said. “It’s all dependent on the jet stream as well.”
There’s a southerly flow coming up from the States and an inversion in the Beaver Valley, so it’s trapping the smoke in the area and keeping the air quality fairly low.
“We’re just not seeing the inversion lift just yet,” she concluded.
Report a wildfire or unattended campfire by calling *5555 on a cellphone or 1-800-663-5555 toll-free. For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning prohibitions, road closures and air quality advisories, visit (www.bcforestfireinfo.gov.bc.ca»)