After scorching hot weather for multiple days, campfire bans will start taking effect in some parts of B.C. this week.
The Coastal Fire Centre, Kamloops Fire Centre and Southeast Fire Centre will all be under a campfire ban starting Aug. 4. No campfire bans have been announced for the Cariboo Fire Centre, Northwest Fire Centre and Prince George Fire Centre.
The BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) says it has been hearing concerns about campfire bans; staff recently took to social media to explain that the province is large and geographically diverse with different weather influences.
“Each of B.C.’s six fire centres decide when and where to implement prohibitions,” the BCWS wrote on Twitter.
According to the service, multiple factors are taken into consideration when assessing wildfire hazards and deciding whether to implement any open fire prohibitions. This includes current and forecasted weather conditions, the availability of firefighting resources and the Buildup Index (BUI).
The BUI rating is an estimate of the total amount of fuel available for combustion on the landscape.
"It takes into account the fuel’s moisture content since that can affect fire intensity,” stated the tweet from BCWS.
Before a new prohibition goes into place, the fire centre will try to give a few days' notice.
"This allows BCWS staff and partner agencies to place signs at campsites, remove or stop selling firewood, and help people planning trips to know what to pack.”
For days, British Columbians were scorched in sweltering heat with some temperatures across the province breaking 40 C.
Meteorologists blamed the heat on a “strong ridge of high pressure,” which resulted in a heat warning last week.
After the hot temperatures, there are now 73 wildfires burning across the province, with the largest number of fires in the Kamloops Fire Centre (25), and Southeast Fire Centre (23).
The BC Wildfire Service says campfires can lead to human-caused wildfires and new bans are coming into place. Prohibitions cover all BC Parks, Crown lands and private lands unless specified in local government bylaws.
"The campfire prohibition does not apply to cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes, or portable campfire devices that use briquettes, liquid or gaseous fuel, provided they are CSA or ULC approved, and the height of the flame is less than 15 centimetres,” says the wildfire service.
Category 2 open fire is not a campfire and the material must be in one pile, not exceeding two metres in height and three metres in width, or concurrently two piles not exceeding the same dimensions, or stubble or grass over an area that does not exceed 0.2 hectares.
A Category 3 open fire is material burning, concurrently or not, in three or more piles not exceeding two metres in height and three metres in width. It can also be one or more windrows, stubble or grass over an area exceeding 0.2 hectares.
All burning prohibitions will be in place until Oct. 28, 2022, or until rescinded.
Here's a breakdown, by fire centre:
Cariboo Fire Centre
- No campfire ban
- Category 2 open fires are prohibited throughout the Cariboo Fire Centre and the Tŝilhqot'in (Xeni Gwet'in) Declared Title Area. This prohibition came into effect on July 15, 2022.
- Category 3 open fires are prohibited throughout the Cariboo Fire Centre and the Tŝilhqot'in (Xeni Gwet'in) Declared Title Area. This prohibition came into effect on June 6, 2022.
Coastal Fire Centre
- Category 2 and 3 open fires are prohibited throughout the Coastal Fire Centre.
- Campfires will be prohibited throughout the Coastal Fire Centre, excluding the Haida Gwaii Forest District, as of Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, at 12 p.m. PDT.
Kamloops Fire Centre
- Category 2 open fires are prohibited throughout the Kamloops Fire Centre as of July 15, 2022.
- Category 3 open fires are prohibited throughout the Kamloops Fire Centre as of June 30, 2022.
- Campfires are prohibited in the Kamloops Fire Centre as of Aug. 4, 2022, at noon.
- An area restriction order is in place north of Heffley Creek in the area of Evergreen. This area restriction came into effect on June 17, 2022.
Northwest Fire Centre
- No campfire ban
- Category 2 and Category 3 open fires are prohibited throughout the Northwest Fire Centre as of July 28, 2022.
Prince George Fire Centre
- No campfire ban
- Category 2 and Category 3 open fires are prohibited throughout the Prince George Fire Centre from July 28, 2022.
Southeast Fire Centre
- Category 2 open burning is prohibited throughout the Southeast Fire Centre as of Friday, July 15, 2022.
- Category 3 open burning is prohibited throughout the Southeast Fire Centre as of Thursday, June 30, 2022.
- Campfires are prohibited as of Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022.
BC Wildfire Service is reminding the public that anyone lighting a Category 3 fire must obtain a burn registration number.
Anyone found in contravention of an open burning ban may be handed a $1,150 fine or, if convicted in court, could be fined up to $100,000 or sentenced to one year in jail.