Unseasonably hot dry weather has forced the Kamloops Fire Centre to issue campfire bans across much of the southern Interior as of 12 p.m. PT Wednesday.
Campfires are prohibited across all Kamloops Fire Centre zones, except for Clearwater. That includes all B.C. Parks, Crown and private lands in Merritt, Penticton, Kamloops, Salmon Arm, Vernon and Penticton zones.
At the same time, a campfire ban will take effect in the regional district of central Okanagan, prohibiting fires in all municipalities in that area.
Mary Ann Leach, a fire information officer with the Kamloops Fire Centre, says such measures are unusual for this time of year.
"We're into a 10-year anomaly in terms of our weather conditions. Normally at this time of year we would have seen a significant rainfall, either late August or the beginning of September. That just hasn't happened this year. "
"It is unusual. We've certainly had campfire bans that have extended into this area, but we've not had the occasion where we've had to implement a campfire ban at this time of year, in my knowledge," says Leach.
The fire danger rating across the Kamloops Fire Centre is high to extreme, and there's no significant rainfall in sight, says Leach.
"With the continued dry weather we felt it necessary to implement the campfire ban to try and limit the number of person-caused fires. We don't see any appreciable precipitation in the near future, even though the temperatures have cooled off to a more seasonable weather."
The campfire ban will be in place until rainfall lowers the wildfire risk, or Oct. 15, whichever happens first says Leach.
Campfire bans have not been issued for other areas of B.C., but open fire bans restricting fires larger than one metre in diameter are in place in the Coastal, Southeast and Cariboo fire regions.
People urged to avoid cutting firewood
Leach says the Kamloops Fire Centre is also asking people to postpone cutting firewood with power saws because of the hot, dry conditions.
"This time of year people try to get their firewood to take them through the winter. Often you'll get sparks from power saws if they happen to cut a rock. So we're asking people not to do that at all in the Kamloops Fire Centre area, if possible."
Leach says if people do plan to cut firewood, they must do so before 1 p.m., and have a "fire watcher" on hand to look for sparks. The fire watcher must stay on-site for a minimum of two hours after cutting has been finished.