A wildfire burning near the Seven Mile Dam on the Pend d’Oreille River is an indication of things to come with hot, dry weather and high winds creating severe fire conditions.
The Seven Mile fire began Monday afternoon and was immediately responded to by Greater Trail firefighters. Details of the fire were unknown at press time but officials in the Southeast Fire District say they are bracing for an outbreak of forest fires in the region, possibly more Monday night.
“What happened is the Kamloops, Cariboo and Prince George Fire Centres experienced a lot of lightning the last week, and the majority of those fires are lightning-caused,” says BCWildfire spokesperson Karlie Shaughnessy.
“We are forecasting some lightning in our northern part of the district- the Monashees, Golden and Revelstoke areas tonight,” she said Monday.
“We are anticipating multiple starts from that lightning, so we have pre-placed some crews in certain geographical locations where we are anticipating the most activity.”
The whole fire district is rated at high-to-extreme fire danger, Shaughnessy told the Trail Times. A campfire ban was placed on the region last Friday.
With a chance of lighting in the forecast, “We are anticipating and preparing for it,” she stated.
The Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire and Rescue are also preparing for possible trouble within the regional district. On the weekend, they dusted off their Emergency Response Plan to make sure they were prepared.
“We went through the plan, assessed volunteer firefighter availability, checking on apparatus, equipment, knowledge of the campfire ban, any needs, and it was all in good shape as far as our fire services,” said Fire Chief Dan Derby. “We have Emergency Operations Centre staff team on stand by, and sent out a safety message as regards to wildfire response to all the fire departments.”
Meanwhile, with only eight one-hectare fires currently burning in the region, and all under control, the Southeast Fire District has been able to to lend a hand to firefighters in the Central Interior.
“We have three unit crews, about 60 people, who were deployed to the Cache Creek area on the weekend to deal with the fire situation there,” she says.
More than 10,000 people in the Central and Southern Interior have been ordered to leave their homes as more than 200 fires burn out of control. Those fires have destroyed an area covering at least 320 square kilometres.
The B.C. government declared a provincial state of emergency on Friday to ensure a co-ordinated response to the fire situation and to ensure public safety. It also announced a $100-million fund for communities and residents to rebuild.
Fire wardens are on patrol in the Southeast Fire Centre and educating people about the campfire ban that came into effect at noon on July 7.
Due to the quick implementation of the fire ban on Friday, individuals who are camping this weekend may have missed the campfire ban notice. The fire wardens are talking to people about the ban and distributing information about it in the region’s camping areas and recreation sites.
The public is urged to comply with the current open fire restrictions in the Southeast Fire Centre and extinguish any such fires they may have lit.
Specifically, prohibited activities include:
* campfires, as defined in the Wildfire Regulation: www.gov.bc.ca/wildfirelegislation
* the burning of waste or other materials
* stubble or grass fires of any size over any area
* the use of fireworks, sky lanterns, tiki torches, chimineas, burning barrels or burning cages of any size or description
* the use of binary exploding targets (e.g. for target practice)
* the use of air curtain burners (forced air burning systems)
These prohibitions do not apply to cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes, or to a portable campfire apparatus with a CSA or ULC rating that uses briquettes, liquid or gaseous fuel – so long as the height of the flame is less than 15 centimetres.
These prohibitions cover all BC Parks, Crown lands and private lands, but do not apply within the boundaries of a local government that has forest fire prevention bylaws and is serviced by a fire department. Always check with local authorities to see if any other burning restrictions are in place before lighting any fire.
Anyone found in contravention of an open burning prohibition may be issued a ticket for $1,150, required to pay an administrative penalty of $10,000 or, if convicted in court, fined up to $100,000 and/or sentenced to one year in jail. If the contravention causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person responsible may be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.