VICTORIA - While in Prince George, getting a first-hand update on the Little Bobtail Lake wildfire, Premier Christy Clark is reminding the public to do their part to prevent wildfires during the May long weekend.
Premier Clark was accompanied by John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation and MLA for Nechako Lakes. The Little Bobtail Lake wildfire - the first major wildfire of 2015 - has burned about 13,000 hectares to date. Ground crews, supported by helicopters, airtankers and heavy equipment operators, are working around the clock to control the fire and protect homes, infrastructure, forests and grasslands.
The Wildfire Management Branch is fully prepared for this year’s wildfire season, but B.C. residents and visitors need to be especially careful with fire use during hot and dry weather. Many regions of the province are seeing unseasonably high temperatures and dry conditions. Some parts of B.C. have already experienced “high” and “extreme” fire danger ratings - an early indication that we could be facing a busy wildfire season again this year.
The warming trend that has been drying out forest fuels and grasslands for weeks is expected to continue over the long weekend and into next week in most of the province. The long-term weather outlook for B.C. suggests that temperatures will be above normal in many areas this summer.
Small campfires are currently permitted throughout B.C., so long as people exercise caution and follow campfire regulations. The maximum allowable size of campfires is 0.5 metres wide by 0.5 metres high.
Larger Category 2 and Category 3 open burns are currently prohibited in the Prince George Fire Centre. Category 3 fires are also prohibited in the Cariboo Fire Centre. The Kamloops Fire Centre will implement a prohibition on Category 2 and Category 3 open burning at noon on Friday, May 15. Information about burning and campfire restrictions is available online at: http://bcwildfire.ca/hprScripts/WildfireNews/Bans.asp
Almost half of all wildfires in B.C. each year are caused by people and these fires unnecessarily tie up Wildfire Management Branch resources. The B.C. government is asking everyone to do their part this May long weekend to help keep their neighbours and communities safe.
- Heat from vehicle exhaust, fireworks, discarded cigarettes and sparks from equipment can easily ignite a wildfire when fire danger ratings are elevated.
- Don’t park your motorcycle, all-terrain vehicle or any other off-road vehicle on grass or in areas where the exhaust system is close to combustible material.
- Use an approved spark arrester on your vehicles exhaust system to reduce wildfire risks.
- Take appropriate precautions with all heat sources, including campfires, outdoor stoves, barbecues and smoking materials.
- Ensure that cigarette butts are properly extinguished.
- Campfires cannot be larger than 0.5 metres high by 0.5 metres wide.
- You must maintain a one-metre fireguard around the campfire. This is a fuel-free area where all flammable materials (grass, kindling, etc.) have been removed.
- Do not light a campfire or keep it burning in windy conditions.
- Never leave a campfire unattended.
- Make sure that the campfire is completely extinguished and the ashes are cold to the touch before leaving the area for any length of time.
Premier Christy Clark -
“Every summer, the risk of fire increases. With many parts of the province facing unseasonably warm and dry weather, that risk increases even more - putting people’s homes and lives at risk. This long weekend, please be mindful and take extra care with your campfires and barbecues.”
Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson -
“All British Columbians need to do their part to prevent wildfires by learning about safe fire use and complying with all campfire and open burning regulations. I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable long weekend.”
Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation John Rustad, MLA for Nechako Lakes -
“I can assure everyone living in the Bulkley-Nechako and Fraser-Fort George areas that B.C. firefighters are working hard to bring this wildfire under control. Given the hot and dry conditions in this region, please remain vigilant and immediately report any wildfire that you see.”
- The B.C. government thanks the public for its ongoing help in preventing wildfires. Anyone who spots a wildfire or unattended campfire should immediately call *5555 on a cellphone or 1 800 663-5555 toll-free.
- Anyone found in contravention of an open fire prohibition may be issued a ticket for $345 or, if convicted in court, 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.
- For more information about open fire prohibitions, visit the Wildfire Management Branch website at www.bcwildfire.ca or phone the nearest fire centre office.
A Factsheet on wildfire prevention is posted online at: http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/ministries/forests-lands-and-natural-resource-operations/factsheets/factsheet-forest-fire-prevention-is-everyones-responsibility.html
Fire prevention tips are available on the Wildfire Management Branch website at: http://bcwildfire.ca/Prevention/
You can also follow the latest wildfire news:
- On Twitter at: http://twitter.com/BCGovFireInfo
- On Facebook at: http://facebook.com/BCForestFireInfo
Office of the Premier
Provincial Fire Information Officer