With many British Columbians planning to spend Canada Day outdoors, the B.C. government is encouraging everyone to exercise caution with fire use and help prevent human-caused wildfires that could threaten communities.
“Canada Day often means spending time outside with family and friends enjoying our beautiful province,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “However, we all must ensure that our outdoor activities are respectful of the environment and don’t spark a wildfire that could put people in harm’s way.”
Some parts of the province have received lower-than-average rainfall this spring, which means forests and grasslands in some regions are drying out and could catch fire more easily.
The hot and dry weather that much of British Columbia is experiencing now is more typical of what is normally seen in July or August. These conditions are expected to persist in the coming weeks, with record-breaking temperatures forecast for many parts of the province. Although the BC Wildfire Service is fully prepared to deal with new wildfires, lightning could spark fires in forested areas and grasslands, and any such fires would be more likely to spread.
About 88% of the 337 wildfires that have occurred since April 1, 2021, were caused by people. Such fires are completely preventable, put extra demands on crucial firefighting resources and unnecessarily increase the workload of BC Wildfire Service crews.
“British Columbia’s emergency response capabilities are among the best in the world,” said Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness. “Let’s all take care on Canada Day to prevent human-caused wildfires so our crews can concentrate on existing fires and naturally occurring fires.”
People are reminded some open burning activities are prohibited in different regions of the province. Current prohibitions are listed on the BC Wildfire Service website:
Local governments throughout the province may also have open burning prohibitions or fireworks bans in place. People should check with their local authorities to see what restrictions are in effect where they are.
Here are some other fire safety tips to keep in mind:
- If campfires are allowed where you are, remember they must not be larger than 0.5 metres high or 0.5 metres wide.
- Never light a campfire or keep it burning in windy conditions. Weather can change quickly, and wind may carry embers to other combustible material.
- Maintain a fireguard around your campfire. This is a fuel-free area where all flammable materials (grass, leaves, kindling, etc.) have been removed right down to the soil.
- Never leave a campfire unattended.
- Have a shovel or at least eight litres of water available to properly extinguish the campfire.
- Make sure the ashes are cool to the touch before leaving the area for any length of time.
- A poster that illustrates proper campfire use is available online:
- A video showing how to safely light and maintain a campfire is available online:
- 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 buildups 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, ensuring 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.
Anyone found in contravention of an open-burning prohibition may be issued a violation ticket for $1,150, may be required to pay an administrative penalty of up to $10,000 or, if convicted in court, may be 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.
- The BC Wildfire Service has implemented safety protocols and strategies to minimize COVID-19 exposure risks to its personnel and to communities. Its personnel adhere to public health orders and guidelines to ensure firefighting operations can continue safely throughout the province.
- The BC Wildfire Service’s official mobile app provides real-time wildfire information and features an interactive map that users can customize to display a variety of fire-related data. The app complements the BC Wildfire Service website and is available for Apple (iOS) and Android devices as a free download.
- Mitigating wildfire risk is a shared responsibility of the provincial government, local governments, First Nations, industry and individual British Columbians. Homeowners can learn how to make their properties FireSmart by visiting the British Columbia FireSmart website and downloading the manual, FireSmart Begins at Home, which includes a risk assessment checklist.
BC Wildfire Service: www.bcwildfire.ca
Fire restrictions and bans: http://www.gov.bc.ca/wildfirebans
FireSmart program: www.firesmartbc.ca