Premier Gordon Campbell is urging people to stay out the back country in the face of what he calls a critical forest fire danger in the province.

He says the risk of wildfires is the highest in recent memory, with 85 per cent of the province facing a high or extreme fire hazard.

The hazard is even worse than in 2003 when firestorms destroyed about 300 homes in the south Kelowna area and north of Kamloops.

Since April 1st, more than 1,800 wildfires have burned about 510 square kilometres of forests and grasslands, with half of them caused by people.

Campbell says he wants people to be careful -- including staying off back country roads -- during the long weekend, in which continued heat and lightning are expected.

He says if the fire hazard remains high the province will consider more restrictions on back country use.