Fire ban issued in Greater Trail region

A recent spate of extreme hot weather has the Southeast Fire Centre raising the alarm.

You had better not keep the home fires burning for the next few months.

Despite all of the wet weather that has soaked the landscape of the West Kootenay, a recent spate of extreme hot weather has the Southeast Fire Centre raising the alarm.

As of Friday all open fires are prohibited within the Southeast Fire Centre—that includes the lands around Trail—to help prevent human-caused wildfires and protect public safety.

The prohibition could last for over two months, according to fire information officer Karlie Shaughnessy.

“This prohibition covers all BC Parks, Crown and private lands, but does not apply within the boundaries of local governments that have forest fire prevention bylaws and are serviced by a fire department,” she said.

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.

The prohibition does not include campfires, gas or propane cooking stoves or briquettes.

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.

The fire season itself has been sluggish, said Shaughnessy, with regional fire crews responding to 21 wildfires since April 1—20 caused by humans and one caused by lightning—which have burned a total of 290 hectares.

The Southeast Fire Centre encompasses an area extending from the U.S. border in the south to Mica Dam in the north and from the Okanagan Highlands and Monashee Mountains in the west to the B.C.-Alberta border in the east.

It also includes the Selkirk and Rocky Mountain districts.

Campfires must not be larger than 0.5 metres by 0.5 metres in size.

People lighting a campfire must maintain a fireguard by removing flammable debris from around the campfire area and must have a hand tool or at least eight litres of water available nearby to properly extinguish the fire.

Campfires should not be lit or kept burning during windy conditions. Never leave a fire unattended. Make sure that the fire is completely extinguished and the embers are cold before leaving the area.

Hot tips

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 http://www.bcforestfireinfo.gov.bc.ca.