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Forestry officials in Kootenay region raise concern over careless burning

Contributor
By Contributor
April 29th, 2014

Crews from the Wildfire Management Branch’s Southeast Fire Centre have responded to seven wildfires since the beginning of April — all of which were human-caused and the result of poorly planned open burning.

These incidents serve to remind the public to remain vigilant when lighting any open fires and ensure that they are fully prepared to extinguish those fires.

While crews have responded to wildfires in both the East Kootenay and West Kootenay regions, the most serious incident occurred in the Cranbrook Fire Zone.

The Elko/Grasmere wildfire was ignited on April 10 as a result of an escaped grass burn and quickly grew to 18.3 hectares. Twenty Wildfire Management Branch personnel worked to extinguish the fire.

Although clearing and burning activities at this time of year can mitigate interface wildfire risks, any open burning must be done safely. Homeowners and industry personnel are encouraged to visit the Wildfire Management Branch website at www.bcwildfire.ca/Prevention and take the following precautions:

  • Ensure that enough people, water and tools are on hand to control the fire and prevent it from escaping.
  • Do not burn during windy conditions. Weather conditions can change quickly and the wind may carry embers to other combustible material and start new fires.
  • Create a fireguard at least one metre around the planned fire site by clearing away twigs, grass, leaves and other combustible material.
  • Never leave a fire unattended. Make sure that your fire is completely extinguished and the ashes are cold to the touch before you leave the area.

Before conducting any burn, also check with your local fire department, municipality and regional district to see if any open burning restrictions or bylaws are in effect.

If you are planning to do any large-scale industrial burning or conduct a grass burn over 0.2 hectares (Category 3 fires), you must obtain a burn registration number ahead of time by calling 1 888 797-1717.

Always check the venting conditions before conducting an open burn. The venting index can be found online at: http://www.bcairquality.ca/readings/ventilation-index.html

In British Columbia, the Wildfire Act specifies a person’s legal obligations when using fire in or within one kilometre of forest land or grassland. If an outdoor burn escapes and causes a wildfire, the person responsible may be held accountable for damages and fire suppression costs.

The Southeast Fire Centre would like to thank the public for its continued help in preventing wildfires. If you see flames or smoke, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or dial *5555 on your cellphone.

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