The province says it is expanding burn restrictions throughout B.C. to reduce the likelihood of human-caused wildfires.
Effective at noon on April 16, most open burning activities will be prohibited, although campfires will still be allowed.
The following activities will be prohibited, and these restrictions will remain in effect until the public is otherwise notified:
Category 2 open fires;
Category 3 open fires;
Resource Management open fires;
the use of fireworks;
the use of sky lanterns; and
the use of burn barrels or burn cages of any size or description (except when used for a campfire).
"These open burning prohibitions will reduce demands on firefighting resources and help protect the health and safety of the public, as well as BC Wildfire Service staff," the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development said in an information bulletin. "They will also help reduce the impact of wildfire smoke on air quality and public health during the COVID-19 pandemic."
"During the current pandemic, larger open burns pose an unnecessary risk and could detract from wildfire detection and response capabilities," the ministry added. "The open burning prohibitions coming into effect on April 16 should decrease the number of false alarms (where firefighters respond to a report of smoke, only to find the smoke is coming from a controlled burn and not from a wildfire)."
Residents are advised to check with their municipalitiy for any other fire restrictions.
Anyone found in contravention of an open burning prohibition may be issued a ticket for $1,150, required to pay an administrative penalty of $10,000 or, if convicted in court, 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 Prince George Fire Centre extends from Yukon and the Northwest Territories in the north to Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, the Cottonwood River and Robson Valley in the south, and from the Alberta border in the east to the Skeena Mountains in the west.
To report a wildfire or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.
Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at email@example.com.