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Southeast Fire Centre urges caution with open burning as warm trend blankets West Kootenay

Nelson Daily Staff
By Nelson Daily Staff
March 29th, 2016

The first sign of warm weather and Southeast Fire Centre is asking the public to exercise caution while conducting any outdoor burning activities this spring, due to expected warm and dry weather conditions this week.

“As the snow melts, dried grass from last summer is uncovered and that material can be highly flammable,” Karlie Shaughnessy Fire Information Officer for the BC Wildfire Serviceat the Southeast Fire Centre said in media release.

“Almost all wildfires at this time of year are caused by people and therefore are preventable.”

According to Jesse Ellis of the Fire Weather Specialist at the Southeast Fire Centre, the upcoming warm trend, that will see temperatures climb into the 20 C range Friday, is not the norm.

Ellis said temperatures at this time of the year range in the low teens.

“We’ve got a big ridge of high pressure off coastal BC that is bringing north-easterly winds over the West Kootenay and as that upper ridge drifts over the province it will keep skies clear,” Ellis explained from his office in Castlegar.

“Which are all the ingredients needed to bring warmer drier, warmer weather to our region.”

The warmer weather is ideal for human caused fires to be started — which is the reason for the warning by the Southeast Fire Centre.

The Southeast Fire Centre said anyone wishing to light an open fire must watch for changing weather, follow all burning regulations to reduce the number of preventable wildfires, 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.
  • If you are planning a large burn, consider conducting smaller burns around the perimeter beforehand to create a fuel break and help prevent the fire from spreading beyond its intended size. Each of these fires should be kept small and must be completely extinguished before starting a new fire.
  • 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 for any length of time.

Before conducting a burn, check with the local fire department, municipality and regional district to find out if any open burning restrictions or bylaws are in effect.

The Southeast Fire Centre said anyone planning any large-scale industrial burning or conduct a grass burn larger than 0.2 hectares (Category 3 fires), you must obtain a burn registration number ahead of time by calling 1 888 797-1717.

Burn registration numbers are available free of charge.

Be advised that, if your fire escapes, you may be liable for fire suppression costs and damages. It is the responsibility of the individual to ensure that they are burning in a safe, responsible manner that is in accordance with current restrictions.

To report a wildfire or unattended campfire, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.

For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, visit: http://www.bcwildfire.ca

Ellis said the next system is expected to arrive Sunday or Monday, causing snow for the mountains and rain for the valley bottoms.

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