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Open burning bans coming to coastal B.C. as wildfire activity increases

Tree branches are seen burning in this image from the BC Wildfire Service (Twitter/@BCGovFireInfo) Tree branches are seen burning in this image from the BC Wildfire Service (Twitter/@BCGovFireInfo)
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Most open burning will be banned in coastal B.C.  ahead of the May long weekend.

The B.C. Wildfire Service announced that Category 2 and Category 3 open fires will be prohibited throughout the Coastal Fire Centre starting at noon on Friday "to help reduce wildfire risk and protect public safety." The ban covers the Lower Mainland, the Sea-to-Sky region, Vancouver Island, the central coast and Haida Gwaii. 

Campfires, however, will be allowed.

The ban covers fireworks, sky Lanterns, binary exploding targets, burn barrels or burn cages, and air curtain burners. It also limits, among other things, the size and number of piles that can be burned and the size of areas in which burning "stubble or grass" is allowed.

Full details of the ban are available online.

LINK: https://blog.gov.bc.ca/bcwildfire/coastal-fire-centre-to-enact-a-category-2-and-category-3-open-fire-prohibition/

Penalties for violating an open fire prohibition can include fines of $1,150 and administrative penalties of up to $10,000. A conviction in court can result in a fine of up to $100,000 and 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 BCWS says.

Speaking at a news conference Monday, officials urged people to be aware of the bans that are in place and to exercise caution around campfires and in the backcountry given that human-caused wildfires are the main cause of early season blazes.

"Even if there are no fire bans in place, folks who are going out into the wilderness to go camping – we need people to pay extra attention and take extra care," Emergency Preparedness Minister Bowinn Ma said.

"The conditions are quite dry across the province."

Cliff Chapman with the BCWS said he has been asked about whether there are plans to ban campfires ahead of the busy long weekend and amid increased fire activity.

That move is not necessary at this time, he said. However, he also urged people remain vigilant across the province.

"We want people to enjoy the long weekend but do so responsibly. And if you see something please call it in. Even if you think it's already called it, please call it in so that we can continue to respond as quickly as we can," Chapman said.

As of Monday afternoon there were 135 fires burning across B.C. and 74 per cent are either confirmed or suspected to be human-caused.

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