Ban in place for long weekend

North Okanagan residents are reminded that campfires remain banned this holiday weekend.

North Okanagan residents are reminded that campfires remain banned this holiday weekend.

The B.C. Day long weekend is a time when many people head out camping or go to the lake, but a two-week-old campfire prohibition continues.

“We want to limit the number of human caused fires,” said Melissa Welsh, with the provincial Kamloops Fire Centre.

The goal is to direct firefighting resources towards those blazes that can’t be prevented, and specifically those caused by lightning.

“In July and August, we see more lighting and especially dry lightning,” said Welsh.

While some residents have questioned the ban given a recent rainstorm, Welsh insists there is a need for the rules to stay in force.

“The rain didn’t allow the moisture to go below the dust level. Everything underground is still very dry,” she said of the soil.

“We’ve also bounced back into high temperatures.”

The ban applies to open fires of any size, fires with a burn registration number, industrial burning, fireworks, tiki torches and burning barrels. The prohibition does not apply to cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes.

Under provincial rules, anyone violating an open fire ban may be issued a ticket for up to $345. Anyone who causes a wildfire through arson or recklessness, may be fined up to $1 million, spend up to three  years in prison and be accountable for associated firefighting  costs.

Beyond campfires, there is a concern that other activities in the backcountry could lead to a fire.

“People going hiking or driving an ATV, make sure you are responsible,” said Welsh, pointing out potential ignition sources from cigarette butts and vehicle exhaust.

“Anything that can produce a spark can start a wildfire.”

To report a fire or smoke sighting, call 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on a mobile phone.

“People have a responsibility and an obligation to report a wildfire. It allows for a speedy response,” said Welsh.