Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, fire bans are coming to the Kamloops Fire Centre next week, a full two months earlier than when bans were implemented in 2019.
Effective Thursday, April 16, the Ministry of Forests has decided to restrict the following:
• category 2 open fires;
• category 3 open fires;
• resource management open fires;
• the use of fireworks;
• the use of sky lanterns; and
• the use of burn barrels or burn cages of any size or description (except when used for a campfire).
Campfires are still permitted.
These same restrictions went into effect last year on June 12.
In a release, the BC Wildfire Service said the early burning prohibitions will reduce demands on firefighting resources and help reduce the impact of wildfire smoke on air quality and public health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A strategic deployment of wildfire management resources is critical this fire season, so it is especially important to reduce the number of unnecessary, human-caused wildfires,” the BC Wildfire Service said. “It is vital BC Wildfire Service staff remain healthy to respond to wildfires throughout the 2020 season and ensure the BC Wildfire Service's response capability is not affected.”
During the pandemic, larger open burns pose an unnecessary risk and could detract from wildfire detection and response capabilities, according to the BC Wildfire Service, which added that the open burning prohibitions should help decrease the number of false alarms, where firefighters respond to a report of smoke, only to find the smoke is coming from a controlled burn and not from a wildfire.
These open burning prohibitions also support the BC Centre for Disease Control's recommendation to help reduce excess air pollution in airsheds throughout the province.
Anyone found in contravention of an open burning prohibition may be issued a ticket for $1,150, required to pay an administrative penalty of up to $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.
Report a wildfire, unattended campfire or open burning violation by calling 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, click here.