A sweeping campfire ban has gone into effect for the Coastal Fire Centre, including Vancouver Island.
Effective at noon Thursday, campfires are prohibited in all of the centre’s jurisdiction with the exception of the Haida Gwaii Forest District.
The ban will remain in place until Oct. 28 or until the order is rescinded, according to the BC Wildfire Service.
Under the ban, no campfires, category 2 or category 3 fires will be permitted in BC Parks, Crown lands and private land in the Coastal Fire Centre, though it does not apply within the boundaries of a municipality that has its own wildfire bylaws in place and has a local fire department.
“However, we ask the public to check with local government authorities to ensure they are following local bylaws before lighting any fire,” said the wildfire service.
The ban also means that people are prohibited from lighting fireworks, sky lanterns, binary exploding targets, burn barrels or air curtain burners in the affected areas.
It does not apply to cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes, or portable campfire devices that use briquettes, liquid or gas fuel as long as the height of the flame is less than 15 centimetres.
Anyone in contravention of the campfire or open fire bans could receive a ticket of $1,150 and if convicted in court, a fine of up to $100,000 and/or one year in jail. If the fire sparks or contributes to a wildfire, they could face a penalty of up to $100,000 plus all associated firefighting costs.
Find more on the difference categories of open burning on the government’s website here.
Along with Vancouver Island, the Coastal Fire Centre covers the Lower Mainland, Sea-to-Sky, Central Coast and Haida Gwaii areas of B.C.
Across the province, there are 60 active wildfires, 16 of which were started in the last two days, according to the BC Wildfire Dashboard.
Lightning is the suspected cause for 43 of the fires, while seven are person-caused.
In the Coastal Fire Centre there have been 47 fires so far this year compared to the 10-year average of 115, and only 262 hectares burned in 2022 compared to the 10-year average of 3,300.
Vancouver Island has had just 13 wildfires so far and they’ve all been extinguished quickly.
“We hit those fires hard and we hit them fast with a three-person initial attack crew usually attached to a helicopter and they’ve been getting those fires out in a very short period of time,” said Fire Information Officer Julia Caranci.
The fire danger rating is currently moderate for most of Vancouver Island with pockets of high to extreme on the south island but officials say that’s expected to change soon.
“Definitely we’re seeing that drying trend now and it will continue to be exacerbated if we continue to see what the seasonal outlook suggests which is a dry, hot August,” said Caranci.