VICTORIA – Residents, travellers and campers are strongly urged to use caution and remain vigilant to prevent human-caused fires when enjoying the outdoors this weekend.
Above-normal temperatures, combined with drought conditions throughout most of the province, are increasing the potential for wildfires. People should be prepared for wildfire and heat, have an emergency plan and stay informed as conditions change.
Since April 1, 2023, more than 220 wildfires have burned more than 135-thousand hectares, largely within the Prince George Fire Centre. Of these fires, 85% were human-caused and were preventable. Wildfire prevention is a shared responsibility.
Category 2 and 3 open burning fires are now prohibited across the most of the province. Campfires (known as Category 1) are prohibited throughout the Prince George Fire Centre as of noon on Friday, May 19, 2023. For information specific to your region, visit: Fire Bans and Restrictions
Anyone found in contravention of an open burning prohibition may be issued a violation ticket for 1,150, required to pay an administrative penalty of up to $10,000 or, if convicted in court, fined as much as $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.
While the majority of wildfires that occur in the spring are typically human-caused, with the return to more seasonal conditions, there is an increasing probability of lightning-caused fires. The BC Wildfire Service is closely monitoring these changing conditions and making preparations with strategic aviation and crew placements.
To report a wildfire, unattended campfire or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone or download the BC Wildfire Service app. The mobile app allows individuals to submit photos along with their report which helps inform BC Wildfire Service operational decision-making.
Stay informed as conditions change by visiting www.BCwildfire.ca or through the BC Wildfire Service app.
- While campfires are currently allowed in most areas of the province that fall under the BC Wildfire Service’s jurisdiction, individuals should check with local governments and other authorities (e.g., BC Parks) to see if any burning restrictions or bylaws are in effect.
- Keep campfires no larger than 0.5 metres high or 0.5 metres wide.
- Never light a campfire or keep it burning in windy conditions. Weather can change quickly and wind may carry embers to other combustible material.
- Never leave a campfire unattended.
- Have a shovel or at least eight litres of water available to properly extinguish a campfire.
- Make sure the ashes are cool to the touch before leaving the area.
- Anyone riding an all-terrain vehicle on or within 300 metres of forested land or rangeland must have a spark arrestor installed on the vehicle.
- To help reduce wildfire risks, check the condition of the muffler, regularly clear buildups of grass or other vegetation from hot spots, stay on dirt paths and avoid tall grass and weeds.
- Dispose of smoking materials responsibly, ensuring they are completely extinguished.
FireSmart tips for property owners/renters:
- Remove branches, leaves, pine needles and other combustible material from roof, gutters, balconies, doorways, windowsills, etc. Pay particular attention to corners or other tight spots where debris tends to gather.
- Mow any grass within 10 metres of your home regularly, preferably to a height of 10 centimetres or less.
- If you have a deck with a crawlspace beneath it, clear combustibles from there.
- Create a 1.5-metre non-combustible zone around buildings by raking and/or sweeping down to mineral soil, rock or concrete.
- Any movable propane tank or wood pile should be kept at least 10 metres away from your home.
- Check all exterior vents to make sure they are properly screened and in good condition.
- Learn more about FireSmart: https://firesmartbc.ca/
- Monitor Environment and Climate Change Canada for updates about heat warnings and temperature forecasts in your region.
- During heat events, the Province works with health authorities, First Nations and local authorities to protect people and communities, and helps fund cooling centres.
- First Nations and local authorities in affected areas will open cooling centres to the public if needed. Check with your municipality, regional district or First Nation for the most up-to-date information.
Preparing for and responding to hot weather:
- If you have air conditioning at home, make sure it is in good working order.
- If you do not have air conditioning at home:
- Find somewhere you can cool off on hot days.
- Consider places in your community to spend time indoors, such as libraries, community centres, movie theatres or malls.
- Temperatures may be hotter inside than outside, so consider outdoor spaces with plenty of shade and running water.
- Shut windows and close curtains and blinds during the heat of the day to block the sun and prevent hotter outdoor air from coming inside. Open doors and windows when it is cooler outside to move that cooler air indoors.
- Ensure that you have a working fan, but do not rely on fans as your primary means of cooling. Fans can be used to draw cooler in late evening, overnight and early-morning air indoors.
- Keep track of indoor temperatures using a thermostat or thermometer. Sustained indoor temperatures hotter than 31 C can be dangerous for people who are susceptible to heat.
- If your home gets very hot, consider staying with a friend or relative who has air conditioning if possible.
- Identify people who may be at high risk of heat-related illness. If possible, help them prepare for heat and plan to check in on them. The most susceptible individuals include adults over 60, people with pre-existing health conditions, people with mental illnesses and people with disabilities.
- Drink plenty of water and other liquids to stay hydrated, even if you are not thirsty.
- Spray your body with water, wear a damp shirt, take a cool shower or bath, or sit with part of your body in water to cool down.
- Take it easy, especially during the hottest hours of the day.
- Stay in the shade and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.
- Take immediate action to cool down if you are overheating. Signs of overheating include feeling unwell, headache and dizziness. Overheating can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
- Signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, severe headache, muscle cramps, extreme thirst and dark urine. If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should seek a cooler environment, drink plenty of water, rest and use water to cool your body.
- Signs of heat stroke include loss of consciousness, disorientation, confusion and severe nausea or vomiting. Heat stroke is a medical emergency.
- In the event of a medical emergency, call 911. However, it is important to use 911 responsibly to avoid overwhelming the system.
- Never leave children alone in a parked car. Temperatures can rise to 52 C within 20 minutes inside a vehicle when the outside temperature is 34 C. Leaving the car windows slightly open will not keep the inside of the vehicle at a safe temperature.
- Heat affects pets. Never leave a pet in a parked car. Limit pets’ exercise, and be sure to provide them with plenty of water and shade.
- Destination BC’s Know Before You Go is a regularly updated, one-stop shop for visitors looking to access key information resources, including DriveBC, the BC Wildfire Service and Emergency Management BC.
- It is important to recognize that British Columbia is a large and diverse province. Many areas are not directly affected and are open for business.
- If the area you were planning to travel to is affected by wildfires or under an evacuation alert or order, connect with a local visitor centre to rebook your trip to another area of the province.
- The River Forecast Centre asks that anyone planning activities on rivers or waterways check any advisories for high streamflow or other concerns.
Follow the latest wildfire news:
- on the BC Wildfire Service public mobile app for Apple (iOS) and Android
- Twitter #BCWildfire
Ministry of Forests
BC Wildfire Service
Fire Information Officer