While it’s still early in the season, the Prince George Fire Centre is reminding the public there are currently open burning bans in place.
The BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) actually prohibited the use of resource management open, as well as Category 2, and 3 open fire bans and section 12 activities province-wide on April 16.
However, Prince George Fire Centre spokesperson Rachelle Windsor says that message isn’t getting across.
“It is a little bit earlier in the season and I think that causes a little bit of confusion because a lot of people assume because there’s still snow on the ground and it’s wet that there’s no prohibitions in place but there are and that is due to the COVID-19 pandemic that is happening right now.”
The prohibitions were implemented to aid in minimizing human-caused wildfires and to protect the health and safety of BC Wildfire Service staff from the potential of unnecessary risk and exposure to COVID-19.
“For us, that is just about minimizing the risk of exposure to the general public, as well as our staff, because the more calls we have to respond to, obviously, the greater the risk that we are put into,” explains Windsor.
While campfires between 0.5 metres in width and height are allowed, there are open fire prohibitions in place including the use of sky lanterns and burn barrels or cages.
“It really comes down to the individual’s responsibilities to know about any bans or restrictions before they burn,” says Windsor.
“It’s important too because violations are minimum of $1,150 and they can go up to $100,000 or $1,000,000 if their fire escaped and becomes a wildfire so it’s really crucial to know that.”
She says it’s important that the public stay updated and try to be responsible.
“We have all been working from home and doing our part to reduce the risk and we are asking the public’s cooperation to reduce the risk as well.”
Windsor says if anyone is unsure if there’s a fire ban in place they can call the Wildfire Restriction Hotline, which is updated weekly, at 250-356-5787 or visit the BC Wildfire Centre online for more information.
The BC Wildfire Service also announced today (May 5) that it’s launching its new wildfire app, aimed at providing consistent, accurate and timely information about wildfires when they occur.
A statement from the wildfire service says the app can provide real-time wildfire information and an interactive map that can be customized to display specific data.
It could include everything from current fire danger ratings, active fires and evacuation orders or alerts to BC Parks closures and advisories or closures listed on DriveBC, the province's website providing road conditions.
The app is available on Android and Apple devices and can be downloaded for free.
- with files from The Canadian Press