Caution urged for Burns Lake fire season

Lakes District areas are experiencing below-normal snowpack levels  

Given current and predicted weather conditions, the B.C. Wildfire Service is encouraging members of the public and industry personnel to exercise caution when doing any outdoor burning.

In April 2016, the BC Wildfire Service responded to 79 fires that ended up burning over 14,000 hectares. Given the potential for similar weather conditions this spring, the Northwest Fire Centre is preparing for an early start to the fire season.

The Bulkley Valley and Lakes areas are experiencing below-normal snowpack levels and some areas of the Northwest Fire Centre are already snow-free, so the BC Wildfire Service is reminding the public to be extra cautious with any open burning. As the snow melts, it will not take long for the grass to dry out and become flammable, especially in windy conditions.

The B.C. Wildfire Service strongly recommends that anyone who conducted a category two or category three open burn within the last 12 months should check the burn site to ensure that the fire was completely extinguished.

Currently, no fire prohibitions are in place for the Northwest Fire Centre. However, people wishing to light an open fire must watch for changing weather conditions and follow all burning regulations to reduce the number of preventable wildfires. They also should take the following precautions:

– Ensure that enough resources 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. Wind was a key factor that affected wildfire activity in the spring of 2016.

– Create an appropriately sized fireguard around the planned fire site by clearing away twigs, grass, leaves and other combustible material right down to the mineral soil.

– Consider conducting smaller burns around the perimeter of the main fire site before lighting the main fire. This will create a fuel break and help prevent the fire from spreading beyond its intended size.

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

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