A airtanker returns to Kamloops from the Cariboo Chilcotin region earlier this month. (Jason Foster photo)

Cariboo Fire Centre urges public to exercise extreme caution due to dry conditions

Historic heatwave in June has raised fire dangers to critical levels

With resources stretched thin and international help hampered by COVID-19 travel restrictions, the Cariboo Fire Centre is urging the public to be extremely cautious and to not engage in any activity that could cause a wildfire.

The fire centre is currently experiencing a very high level of wildfire activity and the fire danger rating remains high to extreme across the fire centre. The dryness and extreme heat experienced across the province because of the historic heatwave in June have raised fire dangers to critical levels.

“These persistent hot and dry conditions, alongside daily lightning events have produced an average of 45 ignitions per day between July 6 and July 13 provincially. These conditions are currently challenging available firefighting resources within British Columbia,” noted the BCWS in a news release July 17.

“National and international resources that would normally help are unable to assist due to their own wildfire situations and due to global travel restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Procuring additional domestic and international firefighting resources remains a focus for the BC Wildfire Service.”

Campfires, Category 2 and Category 3 open fires are prohibited across British Columbia. This ban also includes fireworks, skylanterns, burn barrels or burn cages, binary exploding targets, tiki and similar kinds of torches, chimineas, and outdoor stoves or other portable campfire apparatus (unless CLA or ULC rated). Air curtain burners are also prohibited in the Cariboo Fire Centre.

At this time, the BC Wildfire Service has not implemented any backcountry closures. All trails and backroads that are not affected by area restriction orders, evacuation orders, or are otherwise under municipal jurisdiction or BC Parks jurisdiction, remain open for public use. Several provincial parks within the Cariboo region are under alert or closure due to wildfires. Please refer to BC Parks for more information on current park closures.

Know before you go: check the local fire danger rating, download the BC Wildfire Service app and stay up to date with location-specific wildfire information. If conditions reach an unacceptable risk level, a backcountry restriction will be considered.

“Members of the public must remain vigilant and act responsibly when recreating in the backcountry. If you ride an ATV, keep it away from dry areas and make sure that a spark arrestor device is installed, as required by law. If you’re a smoker, always fully extinguish your cigarette and dispose of it responsibly. Never throw it out of a vehicle window,” noted the BCWS.

“Human-caused wildfires are completely preventable and divert critical resources away from lightning-caused fires. Always practice safe, responsible fire use where permitted.”

· To report a wildfire, unattended campfire or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cell phone.

· Anyone found in contravention of an open-burning prohibition may be issued a violation ticket for $1,150, may be required to pay an administrative penalty of up to $10,000 or, if convicted in court, may 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 be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.

Read More: There are nine wildfires of note within Cariboo Fire Centre: BCWS

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Williams Lake Tribune