Low snow pack could exacerbate fire risk

Photo courtesy BC Gov  - A provincial firefighter doing a controlled burn.
Photo courtesy BC Gov – A provincial firefighter doing a controlled burn.


Given the current weather conditions, the BC Wildfire Service is encouraging the public to exercise caution with any outdoor burning.

Fire danger ratings are not calculated for the province between December and April, but a warning was last week that southern sections of the Prince George Fire Centre are experiencing below-normal snowpacks.

"As the snow melts, it does not take long for grass to dry out and become flammable, especially in windy conditions," says the news release from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

The Prince George Fire Centre has confirmed there are no scheduled prescribed burns for the Robson Valley area, but there are two scheduled for south of Valemount in the Kamloops Fire Centre. Another was recently completed in the Kenna Cartwright Nature Park in Kamloops, between March 14th and 16th. It was

conducted by the City of Kamloops with support from the BC Wildfire Service.

Prescribed (controlled) burns can help reduce wildfire risk and help grow better and more natural forests by reducing the build up of forest fuels, tree encroachment on grasslands, and in-filling of some naturally open forests.

The Ministry plans to conduct a series of prescribed burns to restore Cariboo-Chilcotin grassland west of Williams Lake before the end of April, weather permitting. The Wildfire Service has already responded to a human-caused wildfire in the Cariboo region.

The BC Wildfire Service advises anyone wishing to light an open fire must watch for changing weather, follow all burning regulations to reduce the number of preventable wildfires, and take the following precautions:

* Ensure that enough people, water and tools 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.

* Create a fireguard at least one metre around the planned fire site by clearing away twigs, grass, leaves and other combustible material.

* If you are planning a large burn, consider conducting smaller burns around the perimeter beforehand to create a fuel break and help prevent the fire from spreading beyond its intended size. Each of these fires should be kept small and must be completely extinguished before starting a new fire.

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

If you are planning to do any large-scale industrial burning or conduct a grass burn larger than 0.2 hectares (Category 3 fires), you must obtain a burn registration number ahead of time by calling 1 888 797-1717.

Be advised that, if your fire escapes, you may be liable for fire suppression costs and damages. It is the responsibility of the individual to ensure that they are burning in a safe, responsible manner that is in accordance with current restrictions.

Up-to-date information on burning restrictions and current wildfire activity can be obtained by calling 1 888 3-FOREST or online at: www.bcwildfire.ca

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