Canadian Underwriter

B.C. prohibits certain open fires in a bid to help prevent wildfires

June 11, 2015   by Canadian Underwriter

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British Columbia’s Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations said on Wednesday that all Category 2 and Category 3 open fires will be prohibited throughout the Coastal Fire Centre’s (CFC) jurisdiction, with the exception of the so-called “fog zone.”

The prohibition will remain in effect until Oct. 16. Photo: @BC_FPBoard

The CFC covers all of the area west of the height of land on the Coast Mountain Range from the United States-Canada border at Manning Park, including Tweedsmuir South Provincial Park in the north, the Sunshine Coast, the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and Haida Gwaii, the ministry explained in a press release.

The prohibition covers all provincial parks, Crown lands and private lands within the CFC, with the except of the “fog zone,” a band of land two kilometres wide that runs from Owen Point near Port Renfrew to the district boundary of Port Hardy. [click image below to enlarge]

The prohibition applies to Category 2 and Category 3 open fires, fireworks, sky lanterns, burning barrels or cages of any size or description and binary exploding targets

“This expansion of the existing prohibition is to help prevent human-caused wildfires and protect public safety,” the release said, adding that the ban will remain in effect until Oct. 16 “or until the public is otherwise notified.”

Related: B.C. fire crews battling five new wildfires

This ban does not apply within the boundaries of a local government that has wildfire prevention bylaws in place and is serviced by a fire department, the ministry noted. Specifically, this prohibition applies to:

• the burning of any material (piled or unpiled) smaller than two metres in height and three metres in width;

• the burning of stubble or grass fires over an area less than 2,000 square metres;

• the use of fireworks, firecrackers, sky lanterns, burning barrels or burning cages of any size or description; and

• the use of binary exploding targets (e.g., for rifle target practice).

Furthermore, the order does not prohibit campfires that are a half-metre high by a half-metre wide or smaller, and does not apply to cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes.

Related: Winds uncooperative as hundreds of firefighters battle raging B.C. wildfire

Anyone found in contravention of an open burning prohibition may be issued a ticket for $345, required to pay an administrative penalty of $10,000 or, if convicted in court, fined up to $100,000 and/or sentenced to one year in jail. If the contravention causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person responsible may be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs, the ministry says.

Last month, the Wildfire Management Branch of the ministry responded to a series of wildfires, including the Little Bobtail Lake fire southeast of Prince George. By May 19, the fire had grown to 250 square kilometres and became “unpredictable” because of the wind. More than 300 personnel were assigned to the fire, including 270 firefighters, 13 helicopters, 22 pieces of heavy equipment and eight air bombers.

The Little Bobtail Lake fire was believed to have been human-caused. The ministry estimates that 40% of B.C. wildfires are human-caused.

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