Teare Creek wildfire
61 addresses, including the entire village of McBride, were put under evacuation order last May due to the Teare Creek wildfire. /FILE PHOTO

By Abigail Popple, Local Journalism Reporter, RMG

The Prince George Fire Centre, which includes the Robson Valley region, is under a fire ban as of noon on Thursday. Unless the order is rescinded, the ban will continue until noon on October 15th.

The ban applies to Category two and three fires, which do not include campfires. Category two refers to fires that burn material in one or two piles, each a maximum of two metres high and three metres long. Category three refers to fires burning three or more piles that are each a maximum two metres high and three metres long. 

Additionally, the use of fireworks, sky lanterns, burn barrels and burn cages, and binary exploding targets is prohibited under the ban.

Neal McLoughlin, Superintendent of Predictive Services for the BC Wildfire Service, spoke about the Service’s expectations for the upcoming wildfire season at a press conference on March 18th.

McLoughlin said that due to low snowpack throughout much of the province, B.C. residents can anticipate an earlier start to lightning-caused fires this year. Parts of B.C. have already seen human-caused fires, he said, though they have been contained and pose minimal risk of spreading further.

“What B.C. Wildfire Service is most concerned about [are] holdover fires that are occurring along the edges of last year’s fire perimeters,” he said. 

These fires – which were not fully extinguished since igniting last year and have emitted smoke throughout the winter – may ignite fuel that has previously gone unburned, allowing the fire to spread faster and farther than if it only ignited already-burned fuel, said McLoughlin.

“Our focus will be early detection and early suppression of those holdover fires along the edges of previous perimeters,” he added.

While spring rains may reduce the risk of an early and intense fire season, McLoughlin said that a prolonged fire season is still possible given ongoing drought and forecasted warm weather.

“We should be preparing for a prolonged fire season, even if it doesn’t occur,” said McLoughlin. “Safe use of fire, extra vigilance when working and recreating outdoors is critical to alleviate any early human-caused fires this spring.”

B.C. residents can notify Wildfire Services of a fire by dialing *5555, or using the BC Wildfire Service app.