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Heatwave has wildfire officials stressing vigilance

The heat wave is sparking concern over wildfires in the Coastal Fire Centre.

It’s been a fairly tame start to the wildfire season in the Coastal Fire region, which includes Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast.

There have been 64 wildfires to date including two small, active ones that are currently burning.

But the potentially historic heat in the forecast, and the fact 88 percent of wildfires so far this season have been person-caused, has information officer Julia Caranci stressing vigilance.

In just under a week, the fire danger rating across much of the Coastal region has risen from low to moderate, and Caranci warns it could go up even higher over  the weekend.

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“Without any rain in the forecast, we do expect this drying trend to continue,” she added.

“The drying of the forest is happening very rapidly right now, and so I think because it rained just a week ago or so, people are thinking that the forest is not that dry, but the message that we really want to get out is the drying is happening and it’s happening very rapidly, so we do want people to exercise extra caution when they are enjoying the outdoors right now.”

To reduce the fire risk, Category 2 and Category 3 open fire prohibitions are now in place across the region, except for Haida Gwaii. 

Category 2 open fire means an open fire, other than a campfire, that

  • burns material in one pile not exceeding 2 m in height and 3 m in width,
  • burns material concurrently in 2 piles each not exceeding 2 m in height and 3 m in width, or
  • burns stubble or grass over an area that does not exceed 0.2 ha.

 Category 3 includes:

  • material concurrently in 3 or more piles each not exceeding 2 m in height and 3 m in width,
  • material in one or more piles each exceeding 2 m in height or 3 m in width,
  • one or more windrows, or
  • stubble or grass over an area exceeding 0.2 ha.

Basically, Caranci says the prohibitions in place covers larger industrial burns and backyard burning.

That means depending on where you are, and what regional regulations are in place, you are still allowed to have a campfire.

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That, too, has Caranci urging caution: “Yes you can have a campfire but we want you to follow the rules and that means you have to put your campfire on mineral soil, it’s got to be smaller than half a metre, by half a metre, you need that fire guard around that campfire, you have to stay by that campfire at all times, you can’t leave it unattended.”

Before you start a campfire, check current campfire restrictions for the area you’re in.

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