Forest fire season is upon us and officials have issued an open burning ban. They also ask the public to be careful with campfires.

Hot, dry weather heats up forest fire risk around Nelson

As the weather goes from wet to warm, fire officials are keeping an eye on conditions in surrounding forests.

As the weather goes from wet to warm, fire officials are keeping an eye on conditions in surrounding forests.

“At present the fire danger rating is quite varied across the south-east BC. While Nelson area is low to moderate, there are pockets of high near Revelstoke,” said Jordan Turner, information officer for the Southeast Fire Centre.

“Even though we’ve been experiencing hotter weather in the Nelson area, the forest fields are still quite soaked from the spring wet rain we’ve had over the past couple weeks.”

As of Wednesday, there have been 33 fires in the Southeast Fire Centre with a total of 168 hectares burned. Lightening caused 10 of those fires and 23 were caused by people, something fire officials don’t like to see.

“Every person-caused fire is preventable,” said Turner. “These incidents tie up valuable resources and may prevent our crews from responding in an emergency situation or being able to be deployed to other places in the province or country where urgent help may be needed.”

With the hotter and drier conditions of July here, an open fire ban is in effect to

help prevent human-caused wildfires and protect public safety. Prohibited activities include burning waste, stubble or grass and the use of fireworks, sky lanterns or any type of burning barrel. Turner warned the public that contravention comes with a hefty ticket or fines.

“We always need the public to remain vigilant because the fire danger rating will rise quickly as the forests dry out,” he said.

The open fire ban doesn’t include campfires though caution needs to be used while recreating as well. Turner reported this past weekend fire wardens found 11 campfires in the Southeast Fire Centre area either left unattended or escaped from confinement.

He says wardens will increase patrols as more people go camping.

“We need people to respect and follow the campfire regulations we have in place… for a safe and happy summer,” said Turner.

Campfires must be kept a half-metre high by a half-metre wide or smaller, and rules do not apply to cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes.

Anyone lighting a campfire must maintain a fireguard by removing flammable debris from around the campfire area and must have a hand tool or at least eight litres of water available nearby to properly extinguish the fire.

“Make sure that that the campfire is fully extinguished and the ashes are cold to the touch before leaving the area for any length of time,” explained Turner.

The Southeast Fire Centre encompasses an area extending from the US border in the south to Mica Dam in the north and from the Okanagan Highlands and Monashee Mountains in the west to the BC-Alberta border in the east.

To report a wildfire or unattended campfire call 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on a cell phone.