Starting at noon on May 18, an open fire ban will be brought in for Vancouver Island as a measure to reduce the risk of wildfires.
The ban only applies to category 2 or 3 fires. Category 1, or campfires of a half-metre by half-metre wide or smaller and cooking stoves will still be permitted.
The difference between the three types of fires can be found at the bottom of this article, or on the B.C. government’s website.
On May 18, the ban will apply to almost all of the Coastal Fire Centre, which encompasses all of Vancouver Island, except for Haida Gwaii.
The ban will be in place until Oct. 31 or until the order is rescinded.
In addition to the category 2 and 3 ban, fireworks, sky lanterns, binary exploding targets, burn barrels, burn cages, and air curtain burners are banned.
For people lighting a campfire, or category 1 fire, the Coastal Fire Centre says they must maintain a fireguard by removing nearby flammable material and having a hand tool or at least eight litres of water available to extinguish the fire.
Penalties for being found in contravention of the fire ban include a violation ticket of $1,150, an administrative penalty of up to $10,000, or if convicted in court a fine of up to $100,000 or sentenced to one year in jail.
If the contravention leads to a wildfire, the person may be responsible for paying all firefighting and associated costs.
Though this is a measure that is brought in annually, this year the ban is coming into effect earlier than usual. In 2022, the ban came into effect on July 15.
This year’s ban is coming into effect after the wildfire season is well underway.
The Coastal Fire Centre has already had 26 wildfires in the 2023 season as of May 16.
Across B.C. and Alberta, crews have been kept busy battling wildfires with a total of 221 so far.
People have overwhelmingly been the main cause of wildfires this year, with 184 having people as a suspected cause, lighting causing 25 and 12 having an unknown cause.