The annual open fire ban for BC’s Coastal Fire Centre, which includes all of Vancouver Island, will go into effect this week.
As of noon Pacific Time on Thursday, May 30th, Category 2 open fires will be prohibited in order to reduce wildfire risks as temperatures start to rise on the island.
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The ban applies to the following types of fires:
- the burning of any material (piled or unpiled) smaller than two metres high and three metres wide;
- the burning of stubble or grass fires over an area less than 2,000 square metres;
- the use of fireworks, firecrackers, sky lanterns, burning barrels or burning cages of any size or description;
- the use of binary exploding targets (e.g. for rifle target practice)
It does not prohibit campfires that are a half-metre high by a half-metre wide or smaller, or apply to cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes.
However anyone lighting a campfire is required to maintain a fireguard by removing flammable debris from around the campfire area, and have a hand tool or at least eight litres of water available nearby to properly extinguish the flames.
Those found defying the ban may be issued a violation ticket for $1,150, required to pay an administrative penalty of up to $10,000 or, if convicted in court, fined up to $100,000 and/or sentenced to one year in jail.
‘Fog Zone’ no longer excluded
The strip of land on the extreme coast between Port Renfrew and Port Hardy is often referred to as the ‘Fog Zone’ due to the frequent presence of fog in the area.
In the past, the decision to exclude this zone from open fire bans was based on this presence of fog that diminished the risk of wildfire spreading, as well as a general lack of community bylaws and campfire procedures in provincial and federal parks within that area.
However a review of this exemption conducted by the BC Wildfire Service – in collaboration with First Nations, national and provincial park staff, and local governments after the 2018 wildfire season – found that several reasons for the establishment of the fog zone had become irrelevant.
The decision to include this ‘Fog Zone’ in all open fire bans was therefore announced in April 2019.
A map of the affected areas is included below: