Gulf Islands at ‘extreme’ fire hazard level

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Salt Spring and the other Gulf Islands have reached an “Extreme” fire hazard rating, and people are urged to be more vigilant than ever in preventing wildfires on the island. 

No burning of any kind is currently permitted on the island, including campfires. Other outdoor burning was banned prior to June 30, but campfires were added to the list on that date. 

“The BC Wildfire Service takes these extreme heat conditions seriously. Additional precautions are being undertaken across the province, including fire warden patrols, fixed-wing aircraft patrols and an active enforcement presence. Wildfire prevention is a shared responsibility; human-caused wildfires are completely preventable and divert critical resources away from lightning-caused fires.” 

A campfire is defined as any fire smaller than 0.5 metres high by 0.5 metres wide.  

In addition to campfires, Category 2, and Category 3 open fires, the following activities are also prohibited:  

• The use of fireworks 

• The use of sky lanterns 

• The use of burn barrels or burn cages of any size or description  

• The use of binary exploding targets 

• The use of tiki and similar kinds of torches  

• The use of Chimineas  

• The use of outdoor stoves or other portable campfire apparatus without a CSA or ULC rating 

• The use of air curtain burners in Cariboo, Coastal, Northwest, Prince George, and Southeast Fire Centres.

Capt. Mitchell Sherrin of Salt Spring Fire Rescue notes, however, that some chainsaw use on driveways, for example, is still allowed, but should ideally be done early in the day.   

To report a wildfire, unattended campfire, or open burning violation, people should call 1-800-663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cell phone.  

Anyone found in contravention of an open-burning prohibition may be issued a violation ticket for $1,150, may be required to pay an administrative penalty of up to $10,000 or, if convicted in court, may be 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. 

Salt Spring’s Emergency Program is hosting a webinar and community roundtable titled Living with Fire in Salt Spring Island on Tuesday, July 13 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. More details should be available soon on the emergency program’s Facebook page.

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