The Cariboo Fire Centre is encouraging the public to exercise caution when doing any outdoor burning this spring. Open burning restrictions will be in place later this spring, so now is a good time for residents to clean up their yards.
As the snow melts, dried grass from last summer gets uncovered and that material can be highly flammable. Almost all wildfires that start at this time of year are human-caused and are therefore preventable.
Homeowners and industry personnel are encouraged to visit the Wildfire Management Branch website ─ www.bcwildfire.ca/Prevention ─ consult the B.C. FireSmart manual and take the following precautions:
- Ensure that enough people, water and tools are on hand to control the fire and prevent it from escaping.
- Do not burn during windy conditions. Weather conditions can change quickly and the wind may carry embers to other combustible material and start new fires.
- Create a fireguard at least one metre around the planned fire site by clearing away twigs, grass, leaves and other combustible material.
- If you are planning a large burn, consider conducting smaller burns around the perimeter beforehand to create a fuel break and help stop the fire from spreading beyond its intended size. Each of these fires should be kept small and must be completely extinguished before starting a new fire.
- Never leave a fire unattended and make sure that your fire is completely extinguished and the ashes are cold to the touch before you leave the area.
Before conducting a burn, check with your local fire department, municipality and regional district to check if there are any open burning restrictions or bylaws in effect.
If you are planning to do any large-scale industrial burning or conduct a grass burn over 0.2 hectares (Category 3 fires), you must obtain a burn registration number ahead of time by calling 1 888 797-1717.
Always check the venting conditions before conducting an open burn. If venting conditions are rated “Poor” or “Fair”, open burning is restricted. The venting index can be found at: http://www.bcairquality.ca/readings/ventilation-index.html
Up-to-date information on open fire bans can be obtained online at www.bcwildfire.ca or by calling 1 888 3-FOREST.
In British Columbia, the Wildfire Act specifies a person’s legal obligations when using fire in or within one kilometre of forest land or grassland. If an outdoor burn escapes and causes a wildfire, the person responsible may be held accountable for damages and fire suppression costs.
Anyone found in contravention of an open fire prohibition may be issued a ticket for $345 or, if convicted in court, may be fined up to $100,000 and sentenced to one year in jail. If the contravention causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person may be subject to a penalty of up to $10,000 and be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.
The Cariboo Fire Centre would like to thank the public for its continued help in preventing wildfires. If you see flames or smoke, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or dial *5555 on your cellphone.
Fire Information Officer
Wildfire Management Branch
Cariboo Fire Centre