A surge in abandoned campfires incidents while hot, dry temperatures remain has ignited concern from fire officials across the Southern Interior.
Fire Information Officer Karlie Shaughnessy of the Southeast Fire Centre said fire wardens responded to 34 abandoned campfires over the B.C. Day long weekend, raising the number of abandoned campfires to 133 this season.
Eleven of those were in the Arrow Lakes Zone, including Greater Trail and Nelson.
“There were five in the Pend d’Oreille area and two were in the Nancy Greene campsite,” said Shaughnessy. “The rest were scattered throughout the area.”
She urged outdoor enthusiasts to avoid leaving campfires unattended during other activities while the dry heat bakes the region.
“While people are out enjoying the backcountry or camping, it’s critical that they remain vigilant and never leave their campfires unattended. If they do leave a fire unattended it’s a $345 fine, and if it causes a wildfire it could even mean jail time.”
The fire danger rating is currently high in the Southeast Fire Centre with the exception of the Columbia fire zone, which is low to moderate. In addition, a fire prohibition is currently in effect in the Southern Interior.
“There is an open fire prohibition covering all of the Southeast fire centres, which includes any type of open burning, fireworks and burning barrels with exceptions to campfires under half a metre high and half a metre wide,” explained Shaughnessy.
“It’s been in effect since July 13. So far, we have Sept. 19 listed for an end date but if weather permits we’ll lift it earlier.”
Specifically, this prohibits 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 or description in the areas outside of municipal boundaries.
Open burning is not allowed in the City of Trail, as are fireworks.
Last year the Southeast Fire Centre–which includes the Greater Trail region–had the slowest fire season on record in 50 years with 132 fires and 62 hectares burned.
The Southeast prohibition does not include campfires, gas or propane cooking stoves or briquettes.
This prohibition also does not apply to a resource management open fire, including those conducted for agricultural purposes.
Campfires must not be larger than 0.5 metres by 0.5 metres in size.
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»)