With most of the province experiencing above-normal drought conditions, the BC Wildfire Service is urging people to use caution and remain vigilant to prevent human-caused fires when enjoying the outdoors this weekend.
Sustained warm and dry weather will extend British Columbia’s wildfire season well into the fall. Drought conditions can be attributed to warmer seasonal temperatures and below normal rainfall. Many areas of B.C. have set temperature records in recent weeks, and accumulated rainfall amounts through September were below normal levels. People in the southwest and northeast corners of the province need to remain particularly vigilant regarding fire risk.
Recent weather has produced drier conditions than normal for this time of year. Following a few more dry and warm days, BC Wildfire Service forecasters are expecting a dry cold front to sweep across the province on Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. While the cold air will lead to a drop in temperatures, the strong and gusty winds accompanying the front’s passage will contribute to elevated fire behaviour conditions. Very little precipitation is expected to accompany the front.
Human ignitions are possible any time of year and typically occur near communities and roadways. Wildfire Service crews and support personnel remain on standby for the long weekend and are prepared for changing weather patterns that could result in strong winds.
Wildfire prevention is a shared responsibility. There are open burning prohibitions in place throughout much of the province. If you are experiencing windy conditions locally and burning is allowed in your area, consider postponing your burn plans. To learn more about what is permitted in your region and how to conduct any kind of burning responsibly, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/wildfire-status/fire-bans-and-restrictions
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 as much as $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.
Local governments and other jurisdictional authorities, such as BC Parks, may have their own burning restrictions or bylaws in place. It is important to check with local authorities before lighting any fire.
Although the fire season is expected to end later than normal, 2022 has been below normal in terms of the number of fires and total area burned. These below-average numbers can be attributed to a late start to the 2022 fire season, with above-normal over-winter precipitation amounts, cooler spring temperatures and late snow melt at upper elevations. Below-normal number of fires and area burned statistics for 2022 are not expected to change as a result of drought conditions extending the fire season into October.
Campfires and fireworks:
- Campfires are allowed in all areas of the province that fall under the BC Wildfire Service’s jurisdiction. However, people should check with local governments and other authorities, such as BC Parks, to see if any burning restrictions or bylaws are in effect.
- Keep campfires to be smaller than half a metre high or half a metre wide.
- Never light a campfire or keep it burning in windy conditions. Weather can change quickly, and wind may carry embers to other combustible or flammable material.
- Never leave a campfire unattended.
- Have a shovel or at least eight litres of water available to properly extinguish a campfire.
- Make sure the ashes are cool to the touch before leaving the area for any length of time.
- Fireworks are prohibited in many regions in the province. Even if the region has no restrictions, people should check with local governments on any prohibitions.
- To find out the specific provincial bans in your region, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/wildfire-status/fire-bans-and-restrictions
Do not take unnecessary risks in the backcountry:
- People are asked to be mindful of the needs of B.C.’s wildfire response by making a trip plan when hiking and being careful in the backcountry.
- The Province thanks people for reporting fires that they have spotted in backcountry areas and elsewhere.
- Anyone riding an all-terrain vehicle on or within 300 metres of forested land or rangeland must have a spark arrestor installed on the vehicle.
- To help reduce wildfire risks, check the condition of the muffler, regularly clear build-ups of grass or other vegetation from hot spots, stay on dirt paths, and avoid tall grass and weeds.
- Smokers must dispose of cigarette butts and other smoking materials responsibly and ensure they are completely extinguished.
- To report a wildfire, unattended campfire or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555, toll-free, or *5555 on a cellphone, or submit a report through the BC Wildfire Service app.
Important FireSmart tips for property owners and renters:
- Remove branches, leaves, pine needles and other combustible or flammable material from roof, gutters, balconies, doorways, windowsills, etc. Pay particular attention to corners or other tight spots where debris tends to gather.
- Mow any grass within 10 metres of your home regularly, preferably to a height of 10 centimetres or less.
- If you have a deck with a crawlspace beneath it, clear combustibles from there too.
- Create a 1.5-metre non-combustible zone around buildings by raking or sweeping down to mineral soil, rock or concrete.
- Any movable propane tank or wood pile should be kept at least 10 metres away from your home.
- Check all exterior vents to make sure they are properly screened and in good condition.
- Learn more about FireSmart: https://firesmartbc.ca/
- Mitigating wildfire risk is a shared responsibility of the provincial government, local governments, First Nations, industry and individual British Columbians.
- There are currently 179 wildfires burning throughout British Columbia.
- 82% of the 53 wildfires detected in the past week are currently out, under control or being held.
- 72% of the wildfires detected in the past week are suspected to be caused by people.
- So far in 2022, the hectares burned is only 40% of the 20-year average for this time of year.
- While new fire activity is likely to remain above normal while conditions persist into October, it is important to note that unusual fire activity in October (more than 42 fires per week) is less of a concern than unusual fire activity in mid-August (more than 659 fires per week).
Links to highway and road closures, park closures, travel advisories and evacuation alerts: https://www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca/
BC Wildfire Service: www.bcwildfire.ca
BC Wildfire Service mobile app:
Apple (iOS), download directly from the App Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/bc-wildfire-service/id1477675008?ls=1
Android, download directly from the Google Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ca.bc.gov.WildfireInformation&hl=en
Register for Emergency Support Services (ESS) with the online Evacuee Registration and Assistance (ERA) tool: https://ess.gov.bc.ca/
FireSmart program: www.firesmartbc.ca
Highway and road closures: www.drivebc.ca
Travel advisories from EmergencyInfoBC: https://www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca/travel/
Know Before you Go – ExploreBC: Accommodation, transportation, and experience-provider listings can also be found online: www.hellobc.com/book-your-bc-experience/
For key travel information, visit: www.hellobc.com/know-before-you-go
For guidance on how to stay safe during wildfire smoke events, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/24855
PreparedBC is British Columbia’s one-stop shop for disaster readiness information. For tips on seasonal readiness, how to prepare an emergency plan and what to include in an emergency kit, visit: http://preparedbc.ca