Summer heat this weekend expected to increase fire danger on Vancouver Island

Summer heat this weekend expected to increase fire danger on Vancouver Island
WatchThe Coastal Fire Centre is reminding people that while campfires are allowed most other types of burning are banned as warm, windy weather arrives for the weekend.

The Oyster River Fire department covers a rural area between Courtenay and Campbell River and while there is a ban on open burning, the department has been responding to numerous illegal fires.

“You can only burn wood in a campfire but when you put green branches on it you can smoke out a whole neighbourhood so we’ve been getting lots of complaints about people having very, very smokey fires,” said Oyster River Fire Chief Bruce Green.

Oyster River Fire had 27 calls for illegal burns in April and has had eight so far in May.

You are allowed a campfire outside of urban areas on Vancouver Island but the rules are strict.

“So we’re asking people to please follow the prohibitions,” said Fire Information Officer Marg Drysdale. “You can have a campfire if you’re within Coastal Fire Centre’s Jurisdiction but please keep them small, keep them the legal size, half a metre by half a metre.”

There are Catagory 2 and Catagory 3 burning restrictions in place. That means no burning barrels, fireworks or sky lanterns to name a few of the restrictions.

“There’s confusion because people say well it’s raining out so I should be able to burn but to me it’s two-fold,” added Green. “COVID-19 is a respiratory disease so we want the best quality air we can have for the people who may be suffering from it. As well, every fire you have there’s a chance of that fire getting out of hand and that puts the responders in danger from COVID as well by having to work so closely together.”

The fire danger rating across most of Vancouver Island Friday afternoon was low to moderate after recent rains but the Coastal Fire Centre says summer-like heat and wind this weekend is going to change that.

“So we’re asking everyone to be very cautious if you do light something and the winds do pick up make sure you put the fire out if you’re concerned with it,” said Drysdale.

“Yes, we’re already ramping up. I’m going to be sending emails to the firefighters about being prepared,” said Green. “25-26 degrees and put a little bit of wind in there, it doesn’t take long for the fine fuels on the ground to dry out.”

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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