Back yard burning in the Beaver Valley prompted two calls to 9-1-1 over the weekend when tinder dry conditions caused flames to quickly spread out of the homeowners’ control.
The first reported grass fire originated on Caughlin Road in Fruitvale, and was called into Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue shortly after 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon.
A three-man crew from Station 374 Trail was joined by two firefighters from Montrose and eight from Station 376 Fruitvale.
Captain Jason Milne says the homeowner was burning off dead grass when the fire got out of hand.
The team had the scene under control within an hour, though an area measuring a half acre was consumed by flames.
After that brush fire was out, Fire Chief Dan Derby tweeted an advisory.
“It’s already really dry and dead grasses from last year are really susceptible to burning uncontrollably,” he stated.
“The current Ministry of Environment smoke control regulations apply to our area.”
Then a second human-caused brush fire below Montrose prompted an emergency call just before 4 p.m. on Sunday.
“The homeowner was burning in his back yard,” Derby told the Times. “The fire was in a poor location at the bottom of the hill below Montrose. Fire spread to the hill and quickly ran up the hill towards the houses above,” he said.
“Quick action by our crews controlled the fire on its west and east flanks. Crews put in a sprinkler line across the top of the hill to protect the homes and stop the fire before getting up to the homes above.”
This 4.5-acre wildfire was extinguished by a team effort from 43 firefighters, including members from Montrose, Fruitvale, Warfield, Rossland, Trail and the BC Wildfire Service.
“It is not a good time to burn right now, conditions are conducive to rapid fire spread,” Derby said. “We will be back on scene tomorrow (Tuesday) to mop up the hot spots.”
No injuries were reported.
Both grass fires happened just days before the province starts enacting open burning prohibitions throughout British Columbia to lessen the likelihood of human-caused wildfires, though campfires are still permitted.
These fire restrictions will go into effect Thursday, April 16.
The province says burning bans will reduce demands on firefighting resources and help protect the health and safety of the public, as well as BC Wildfire Service staff.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, fire bans will also help reduce the impact of wildfire smoke on air quality.
Larger open burns pose an unnecessary risk and could detract from wildfire detection and response capabilities.
These open burning prohibitions also support the BC Centre for Disease Control’s recommendation to help reduce excess air pollution in airsheds throughout the province.
“A strategic deployment of wildfire management resources is critical this fire season, so it is especially important to reduce the number of unnecessary, human-caused wildfires,” the province states.
“It is vital BC Wildfire Service staff remain healthy to respond to wildfires throughout the 2020 season and ensure response capability is not affected.”
Anyone found in contravention of an open burning prohibition may be issued a violation 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.