With BC Day long weekend coming up and temperatures soaring, the BC Wildfire Service has sent out an advisory urging British Columbians to take care in the woods.

Although the start of this year’s wildfire season has been quieter than normal, August is typically the most active month for wildfire season in the province.

According to BC Wildfire Service, there have been 239 wildfires throughout the province between April 1 to July 29 with approximately 85% of which were attributed to human activity.

“We know people want to get out into the great outdoors, but it’s important that everyone stay vigilant about fire safety,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

“Fighting wildfires can be challenging at the best of times, but managing them in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic requires BC Wildfire Service staff to operate with even greater care. I urge everyone to support our crews by using fire responsibly and making sure that their activities don’t spark a wildfire this holiday weekend.”

Campfires are currently allowed in all areas of the province that fall under the BC Wildfire Service’s jurisdiction. However, people are urged to use caution and keep an ample supply of water nearby to fully extinguish their campfires.

The annual open fire ban for BC’s Coastal Fire Centre, which includes all of Vancouver Island, will go into effect this week.

Category 2 and 3 open fires have been prohibited since July 24 in order to reduce wildfire risks as temperatures start to rise on the island.

These bans apply to the following types of fires:

  • Category 2 open fire
    • the open burning of any material (piled or unpiled) smaller than two metres high
      and three metres wide;
    • the open burning of material concurrently in 2 piles each not exceeding 2 m in height and 3 m in width; or
    • burning of stubble or grass fires over an area smaller than 0.2 hectares.
  • Category 3 open fire
    • any fire larger than 2 metres high by 3 metres wide;
    • the burning of 3 or more concurrently burning piles no larger than 2 metres high
      by 3 metres wide;
    • the burning of 1 or more windrows; and
    • burning stubble or grass over an area greater than 0.2 hectares.

These prohibitions apply to all public and private land, unless specified otherwise like in a local government bylaw. Residents are asked to check with local government authorities for any other restrictions before lighting any fire.

Fireworks, sky lanterns, binary exploding targets, burn barrels or burn cages, and air curtain burners are also banned.

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.