Vernon Fire Rescue Services is urging caution as current conditions are ripe for wildfires.
The North Okanagan is experiencing sustained hot temperatures and very dry conditions.
Already this year, North Okanagan fire departments have responded to multiple grass, wildland and structure fires and the fire danger rating has fluctuated between moderate and extreme at various times.
Environment Canada is forecasting a slight chance of a thunderstorm Thursday with a high of 29. Smoke is expected to roll in Friday with a high of 32 and UV index of eight (very high).
Vernon Fire Rescue Services is therefore reminding residents and visitors about important things that can be done to keep the community safe while enjoying time outdoors. A high of 34 is forecast for Saturday and 33 Sunday.
“The risk of wildfire can change quickly, particularly when we are experiencing a steady increase in temperatures like we’ve seen the past few weeks,” said fire chief David Lind. “It’s critical that everyone is aware of their surroundings, careful about the activities they’re doing outside, and if they see smoke or fire, to report it immediately.”
To reduce the risk of starting a wildfire, residents are reminded to be mindful when discarding cigarettes or while using spark-producing machinery such as welders, mowers, chainsaws, grinders, power tools and any equipment that could strike a rock and create a spark. Those doing this sort of work may be required to have fire suppression systems and equipment available, maintain a fire watch and comply with shutdown regulations.
People should also make sure their motorized off-road vehicles are equipped with spark arrestors, since ATVs and motorcycles may also pose a wildfire risk.
Residents are also reminded that consumer fireworks and sky lanterns are not permitted within the City of Vernon boundaries and multiple fines may be issued for a single infraction.
“We need to work together to keep our community safe from fire hazards all year long, but we must be even more cautious during these hot Okanagan summers,” said Lind.
To report a fire inside city limits, call 911. To report a wildfire, call 1-800-663-5555 toll-free or dial *5555 on a cellphone.
For the latest information on current wildfire activity across B.C., visit bcwildfire.ca.