In an effort to “reduce wildfire risks and protect public safety,” the provincial government said a ban on “Category 2” open burns in BC’s coastal fire zone takes effect at noon today, (May 28).
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The Coastal Fire Centre covers all of the area west of the height of land on the Coast Mountain Range from the US-Canada border at Manning Park, including Tweedsmuir South Provincial Park in the north, the Sunshine Coast, the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, and Haida Gwaii.
This prohibition applies to:
- The burning of any material (piled or unpiled) smaller than two metres high and three metres wide
- The burning of stubble or grass 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)
The prohibition applies to all public and private land unless specified otherwise – for example, in a local government bylaw.
However, the ban prohibition doesn’t apply to larger Category 3 fires or to campfires that are a half-metre high by a half-metre wide or smaller, or to cooking stoves that use gas, propane, or briquettes.
That said, anyone lighting a campfire must 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 fire.
The government said that anyone found in contravention of an open burning prohibition 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.
If the contravention causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person responsible may be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.
The prohibition will remain in effect until the public is otherwise notified, the government said.
To report a wildfire, unattended campfire, or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.
The latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories is available on the government’s website.