NEWS

Campfires in B.C. still allowed despite record-breaking dry weather

06/25/2015 09:44 EDT | Updated 06/25/2016 05:59 EDT
Campers set to head out into the B.C. back country this weekend may be able enjoy a campfire, despite the dry conditions across the province.

So far, no provincial campfire bans have been issued for any of the six regional fire centres.

But some municipalities are putting their own bans in place.

- Sooke has issued a campfire ban starting Friday at noon.

- West Vancouver already has a ban on charcoal barbecues in all parks.

The province has issued open fire bans in four regions, which prohibit fires larger than half a metre in height and width along with burning in barrels and fireworks.

In Vancouver, camping gear retailers like Three Vets Ltd., say they're busy with people encouraged by prolonged sunny weather who now want to go camping.

"Definitely yes, they expect to have a campfire," said Three Vets co-owner Keith Wolfman.

"But everything is so tinder dry I'm hoping that people are going to be aware of what to do and take care of their fires and just be super careful this weekend."

B.C.'s Wildfire Management Branch says it is monitoring conditions that could prompt a campfire ban, considering there are 27 active wildfires in the province which are larger than 10 hectares.

Campfire bans common in July

A campfire ban is put in place based on current wildfire danger in the province, short and long-term forecast weather conditions and the level of fire activity that each fire centre is experiencing.

"It is pretty common in July that we would start seeing campfire bans in place but it does vary year to year," said Provincial Fire Information Officer Ryan Turcot.

The branch doesn't keep statistics about the earliest it's ever put in a campfire ban in the province and Turcot won't say if the window to have campfires continues to shrink due to a trend towards warmer temperatures.

"Predicting the severity of this upcoming fire season, let alone the ones in the future at this stage is difficult to do," he said.  

"You know while long term weather models may indicate trends over time, realistically weather can't reliably be forecast more than a few days in advance."

Wolfman says he won't be surprised to see provincial campfire bans come into place this weekend as temperatures are forecast to soar.

In the meantime Turcot is asking that campers having fires pay attention to them by:

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Building a fire guard, one metre around the fire, which is free of combustible materials

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Having a shovel and eight litres of water close by to extinguish the fire

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Making sure ashes are cool to touch before leaving the fire

"Especially with the increase in lightning-caused fires we've seen this year...we're asking people to be extra cautious," said Turcot.

"One human caused fire is really one too many because it is diverting resources away from the lightning-caused ones which aren't preventable, whereas the human ones certainly are."

Over the past ten years, on average, 39 per cent of wildfires in the province have been human-caused, which includes campfires.61 per cent were caused by lightning.

The B.C. Wildfire Management Branch is asking anyone seeing wildfire activity to call *5555 on a mobile phone or 1-800-663-5555.

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