A campfire ban begins at noon on Friday in the Southeast Fire Centre due to the high fire risk. Wildland firefighters are working on 12 new spot fires in the West Kootenay area.

A campfire ban begins at noon on Friday in the Southeast Fire Centre due to the high fire risk. Wildland firefighters are working on 12 new spot fires in the West Kootenay area.

UPDATED: Campfire ban begins Friday

Fire crews are working on 12 spot fires in the West Kootenay/Nelson area and more thunderstorms and high winds are forecast for Saturday.

Campfires will be prohibited in the Southeast Fire Centre starting on Friday at noon.

Fire information officer Jordan Turner said with the drier conditions the fire bans are to help prevent human-caused wildfires and protect public safety. With thunderstorms and high winds forecast for Saturday, he emphasized the importance for people to adhere to the bans when they are in the woods.

Ron Lakeman, weather forecaster for the fire centre said sustained moderate northerly winds of 20 to 40 km/hr are expected on Saturday. He said there is a chance winds could be i excess of 40 km, but 50 to 60 km at the most which would likely be later in the day. He said mixed with relative humidity in the low teens and temperatures in the low 30s, the sustained winds can effect wildfire behavior.

After the lightening on Monday and Tuesday, crews are currently working on 12 new fires in the West Kootenay and Turner said there are another 10 fires which are at the patrol stage or considered out. Turner says the fires are mostly spot size, which is less than one hectare and often smaller than a house.

He said they have adequate resources and are prepared for more fire starts. However, Turner points out that even though last year was considered a fairly busy year, there have been 129 fires in the Southeast Fire Centre to date compared to 22 this time last year. He said this season has seen 80 more lightening-caused fires but also concerning is that the amount of human-caused fires has doubled in the Southeast Fire Centre.

Turner said they’re hoping the public understands the importance of the prohibitions.

“Whenever they are out in the woods, we hope that they don’t throw out cigarette butts or take ATV’s into dry grass,” he said as an examples.

2015                        2014

Fire Cause

Lightening      82                            2

Human           17                            20

Total 129                          22

A map of the Southeast Fire Centre. Courtesy of Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

Category 2 and 3 fire bans have been in effect for sometime, which includes fireworks and all open burning.

The new camp fire ban takes effect at noon on Friday.

“Specifically prohibited activities include: campfires, as defined by wildfire regulation, the burning of waste or other materials, stubble or grass fires of any size over any area, the use of fireworks…the use of binary exploding targets, the use of air curtain burners,” reads the announcement.

These prohibitions do not apply to cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes or to campfire apparatus with a CSA or ULC rating that uses those substances, as long as the height of the flame is less than 15 centimetres.

“These prohibitions cover all BC Parks, Crown lands and private lands, but do no apply within the boundaries of a local government that has forest fire prevention bylaws and is serviced by a fire department,” reads the announcement. [There is a municipal ban with Nelson city limits.]

Anyone found in contravention may be issued a ticket for $345, required to pay an administrative penalty of $10,000 or, if convicted in court, be fined up to $100,000 and/or sentenced to one year in jail.

If the contravention causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person responsible may also be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.

The prohibition will remain in place until the public is otherwise notified, according to the Southeast Fire Centre.

A map of the prohibition area is available from bcwildfire.ca.

To report a wildfire or burning violation call 1-800-663-5555 toll-free or dial *5555 on a cell phone.