Vernon’s fire chief is reminding residents to take the fire ban seriously after fireworks complaints were filed on Canada Day.
Environment Canada’s heat warning is still in effect for the Okanagan, as is a special air-quality statement warning of increased smoke due to wildfires in neighbouring jurisdictions.
B.C. put into effect a rare provincewide fire ban on June 30 at noon while temperatures soared into the mid- to high-40s as the heat dome hovered overhead.
Despite the fire ban and news of the village of Lytton being decimated by a fire in 23 minutes, some individuals still went ahead with traditional July 1 fireworks.
“It’s very disappointing that folks would be setting off fireworks in these conditions,” Chief David Lind said. “People need to be taking this seriously.”
Fines can run up to $1,000 for those found in contravention of the ban, Lind said, and that’s if nothing goes wrong.
“Those behaviours can lead to a wildfire and the cost could be substantial,” he said. “If folks are found to be responsible for a wildfire they can be responsible for the whole cost of the entire event.”
Criminal charges may also be applicable, he said.
“This is a really big deal,” Lind reiterated. “If you contravene the fire ban, we will be seeking to apply fines wherever applicable.”
The fire bans campfires, Category 2 and Category 3 open fires. The use of fireworks, sky lanterns and chimneys and tiki torches are also prohibited.
Tickets and fines are not something the fire department wants to do, Lind said. Instead, concentrating on education, compliance and behavioural changes is key. But in these current conditions, there’s no time for that.
“People just need to stop,” he said. “Or, you will be fined.”
Complaints made on July 1 remain under investigation.
To report a wildfire, unattended campfire, or open burning violation, call 1-800-663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cell phone.