File photo (BC Wildfire Service)

The provincial government is asking British Columbians to do their part in preventing wildfires after a week of record-high temperatures and widespread lightning storms has left the province particularly vulnerable.

The BC Wildfire Service responded to 568 wildfires throughout the province from April 1 through June 27, 2018. 40% of those are believed to have been caused by people.

“Last summer’s unprecedented wildfire season highlights the need to always be careful with any fire use,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

“I encourage everyone to be responsible as they are enjoying B.C.’s beautiful outdoors this Canada Day long weekend.”

Campfires are still permitted throughout the province, but Category 2 and 3 fires are prohibited in some areas. BC Wildfire Services provides an updated online list which type of fires are permitted.

Just this week, a brushfire erupted on Blanshard Street near Uptown Shopping Centre after someone discarded a cigarette butt. The rapid spread of the fire is proof of how dry things currently are in the region.

Here’s a list of precautions to consider this Canada Day long weekend:

  • Make sure your campfire is no larger than 0.5 metres high or 0.5 metres wide.
  • Refrain from lighting a fire or keeping it burning in windy conditions.
  • Maintain fuel-free area around the campfire in which all flammable materials (grass, kindling, etc.) have been removed.
  • Never leave your campfire unattended.
  • Keep a shovel or at least eight litres of water on hand to properly extinguish your campfire, and make sure the ashes are cold to the touch before leaving the area.
  • Make sure your all-terrain vehicle or dirt bike has a spark arrestor installed. Check the condition of the muffler, and clear buildups of grass or other vegetation from hot spots. Stay on dirt paths and avoid tall grass and weeds.
  • Dispose of your cigarette butts and other smoking material responsibly, and make sure they’re completely extinguished.

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

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