BC introduces burning restrictions to help curb wildfires amid COVID-19 pandemic

BC introduces burning restrictions to help curb wildfires amid COVID-19 pandemic
BC Wildfire Management Branch
BC will introduce burning restrictions to curb wildires during warmer months

B.C. is introducing burning restrictions to help reduce wildfires in the province, starting on April 16 at 12 p.m.

The restriction does not include campfires, but includes the following:

  • Category 2 open fires
  • Category 3 open fires
  • Resource Management open fires
  • the use of fireworks
  • the use of sky lanterns
  • the use of burn barrels or burn cages of any size (except when used for a campfire)

A poster explaining the different categories of open burning can be found on the government website page.

These restrictions are set for the time being, with no date released for when they will be lifted. These prohibitions apply to all public and private land within British Columbia unless specified otherwise, such as in a local government bylaw.

The province is asking for everyone to check with local authorities before lighting any fire. A map of the affected areas is available online.

Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development BC Wildfire Service says this is not just about preventing wildfires.

“These open burning prohibitions will reduce demands on firefighting resources and help protect the health and safety of the public, as well as BC Wildfire Service staff,” said the ministry. “They will also help reduce the impact of wildfire smoke on air quality and public health during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Managing resources during fire season is critical, and the ministry says it is important to reduce the number of human-caused wildfires.

“During the current pandemic, larger open burns pose an unnecessary risk and could detract from wildfire detection and response capabilities. The open burning prohibitions coming into effect on April 16 should decrease the number of false alarms.”

These open burning prohibitions also support the BC Centre for Disease Control’s recommendation to help reduce excess air pollution in airsheds throughout the province.

The fire restrictions can be enforced by RCMP, Conservation Officers and the Compliance and Enforcement Branch of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

The ministry says all illegal fires will be investigated, and charges can be laid under the Wildfire Act or Wildfire Regulation.

Anyone found disobeying the burning rules in B.C. can be issued a violation ticket for $1,150, required to pay an administrative penalty of $10,000 or, if convicted in court, fined up to $100,000 and can face up to a 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.

Rebecca LawrenceRebecca Lawrence

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