The Regional District of East Kootenay is urging residents to use caution while spring burning as dry conditions and wind can create ideal situations for things to get out of hand.
The RDEK says that with spring in the air, many people will want to get outside to clean up their homes and properties.
“Anyone doing spring burning must make sure that they are taking steps to be prepared by having a water source, shovel or tools, burning when it’s not windy and staying on site monitoring the fire until it is completely out,” said Columbia Valley Rural Fire and Rescue Chief Jim Miller.
The RDEK says that early season grass fires are not uncommon as many people underestimate the burning conditions.
“Many people assume that because the snow has just melted, things will be wet and the fire danger rating is low. However, the fine fuels that were dead and dried up before winter quickly dry out in the spring sun and with no new, lush green grass coming in yet, can burn very quickly,” said Dave Boreen, Rural Fire and Rescue Chief for Elk Valley and South Country.
The RDEK also says it’s important to check with the Southeast Fire Centre or the BC Wildfire Service Website before conducting any burns, as there may be restrictions or bans in place. Some people may also require a burn registration number.
According to the BC Wildfire Service, anyone lighting a Category Three fire must obtain a burn registration number by calling 1-888-797-1717 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The BC Wildfire Service website defines a Category Three fire as an open fire that burns material concurrently in three or more piles each not exceeding two metres in height and three metres in width, material in one or more piles each exceeding two metres in heigh or three metres in width, one or more windrows, or stubble or grass over an area exceeding 0.2 hectares.
As of April 7, there are no fire bans or restrictions on open fires or campfires within the Southeast Fire Centre, or any fire centre in BC for that matter.
In the Southeast Fire Centre there are currently two wildfires that are suspected to be human-caused. One is located in the Boulder Creek area and is estimated to be 7.60 hectares. It is listed as under control. The second is located just south of Invermere, estimated at 5.5 hectares and is also listed as under control.
In the Kamloops Fire Centre there are close to ten fires burning, including one in Quilchena Creek that is listed as out of control and estimated to be 839 hectares in size. This fire is also suspected to be human caused.
“In rural areas, burning of grass or small brush piles is often one of the first things people do on their properties to kick start their spring clean up,” said Boreen and Miller. “Our message is to make sure to follow the safety precautions every time, no matter what time of year you are burning.”
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