Wildfires a concern in hot dry weather
It’s hot and dry in the Boundary area and this means that wildfires are an ongoing concern. On July 8, an open fire ban was initiated by the Southeast Fire Centre. This means that pretty much everything except controlled campfires are banned including burning waste and grass fields. Some people may even be surprised to learn they can’t use fireworks when an open ban is in effect.
In this climate, wildfires are always an issue in the summer months. So far this year — up to July 16 — there have been five wildfires in the Boundary with four of them caused by lightning and the fifth a human-caused fire.
“There was no lighting in the area at the time, that’s how we know it’s person-caused,” said Southeast Fire Centre spokesperson Jordan Turner, adding the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
The Southeast Fire Centre has a large geographical region, ranging all the way to the Alberta border and includes municipalities like Revelstoke. So far this year, the fire centre has seen 43 wildfires in the area with 169 hectares burned. Of those fires, 17 were caused by lightning and 26 by people.
These numbers are up significantly from last year, when there were a total of 26 wildfires in the southeast region by July 16, 2012 with 164 hectares burned. Six of those were caused by lighting and 20 by people. Last year’s lower averages were due to the heavy rainfall that persisted throught out the summer.
The 10-year average for fires up to July 16, include 81 total wildfires in the southerweat region with 131 hectares burned. Seventeen fires were caused by lightning and 32 by people.
While people can still enjoy a campfire in their backyard or while out in the wilderness, they do have to follow guidelines. Campfires can’t be wider than a 1/2 metre squared, all the dry debris needs to be cleared away, a fire guard has to be used and either eight litres of water or a hand tool have to be nearby so the fire is easily extinguished.
People caught with a fire outside of these parametres be fined up to $100,000 and face up to one year in jail. They may also be held accountable for the costs of the putting out the fire.
“That can be very expensive,” said Turner, noting that the amount of resources that go into putting a preventable fire is one of the many problems with wildfires.
“Every person-caused fire can be prevented,” said Turner. “They tie up resources and can prevent them (resources) from being used in an emergency.”
Turner encouraged anyone to report a wildfire by calling 5555 from a cell phone or 1-800-663-5555.
The website www.bcwildfires.ca has more information on fire regulations, bans and wildfire updates.