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Burns Lake's fire season heating up

The fire season is not getting off to a great start with four fires already reported over the Easter break
A backyard burn escape the control of a local homeowner last summer ripping through the gully and burning dangerously close to nearby homes.

The fire season is not getting off to a great start with four fires already reported over the Easter break.

The Northwest Fire Centre is reminding the public to be extremely careful with spring burning after responding to four fires in the Telegraph Creek, Cedarvale, Telkwa High Road and Hazelton areas.

While the fires were relatively small, the largest consumed roughly seven hectares or the equivalent of 14 football fields. They were all human caused and preventable.

Grass fires are common at this time of year and can occur despite cool temperatures and snow in the mountains.

They can also spread quickly in dry or windy conditions.

According to the Northwest Fire Centre, home owners should take the following precautions to help prevent human caused fires: never burn when it is windy as winds can carry embers to other combustible materials and start new fires; have enough water and hand tools nearby to control your fire, keeping in mind that winds can materialize quickly, even on a seemingly calm day.

Ensure that all other combustible materials are cleared well away from the fire. Never leave your fire unattended at any time and before leaving an area, douse the ashes with enough water that they are cold to the touch.

Within the Village of Burns Lake a permit is required for any yard burning.

Chief administrative officer Sheryl Worthing said the permits are only issued to people planning on burning yard debris.

The burning permit is free of charge is required for any burning between May 15 to late October [depending on the weather] and is issued at the village office.

If you are planning to do any large scale industrial burning, you are required to obtain a burn registration number ahead of time by calling 1-888-797-1717.

More information is available at

Lindsay Carnes, fire information officer from the Northwest Fire Centre said this year is shaping up to be less severe than last year in terms of dryness and drought.

According to Carnes a seasonal fire prediction is made based on the snow pack and June rains.

"The snow pack this year is at or above average for the majority of the Northwest which is favourable so that we are not going in to the season with a drought," she said.

There has also been a slow start to the snow melt this year.

The months of July and August are peak fire season however Carnes said any prediction for the season would not be able to be accurately forecasted until after June, depending on the rainfall.

"By the end of June we will have a better idea of how the season is shaping up," she said.

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

If you see flames, smoke or an abandoned campfire, please call *5555 on your cellphone or toll-free to 1-800-663-5555.

Hot, dry, windy weather and drought conditions helped wildfires wreak havoc on the local area during the 2010 wildfire season.

Across B.C. during August 2010 more than 400 wildfires were burning, and along with them the annual budget allocated for fire fighting.

The government had allocated $51.7 million, however by  August the cost had already ballooned to $56.5 million, totaling $220 million by the end of the season.

Over 150 firefighters from across Canada arrived in Burns Lake.

A fire at Binta Lake, 45 kilometres southeast of Burns Lake grew to 40,000 hectares.

A fire in Tweedsmuir Park in the Heckman Pass area consumed 3,086 hectares  and forced the temporary closure of Highway 20 at Heckman Pass.

A fire north of Poplar Lake and Duck Lake, located just 20 kilometres west of Francois Lake covered an estimated 5,000 hectares.

A fire at Owen Lake, 23 kilometres south of Houston grew to an estimated 2,000 hectares in size.

Some of the fires grew so large that they could not be contained by the fire crews, who were then pulled back  for safety reasons.