BCWS issues reminder to continue to enjoy campfires safely over May long weekend

Be careful with campfires

The BC Wildfire Service is reminding the public to enjoy their camping activities safety this May long weekend, urging people to be smart when using fire.

Human-caused fires are a real concern, accounting for around 40 per cent of all wildfires in the province each year, BCWS said.

"While campfires often come to mind when thinking of how humans could be responsible for starting a wildfire, the term human-caused accounts for much more than just campfires," they said in their post.

"Fires caused by industry, trains, open burning, power lines, reflected light or really anything other than lighting, are classified as human caused."

Campfires are most often used safely and play an important role in the province, from camping and tourism to cultural uses.

BCWS said that of the more than 2,200 wildfires in B.C. in 2023, only 84 were caused by campfires.

"While we’d all prefer 84 be zero (and for that matter, a reduction in all human-caused fires), most campfires aren’t spreading into wildfires," they added.

Each of the six regional fire centres are constantly tracking conditions in the area, and when the conditions reach certain thresholds, campfire bans will be implemented to reduce risk.

Until then, BCWS asks for everyone to continue to enjoy campfires safely, with the following recommendations:

  • Visit BCwildfire.ca or use the BC Wildfire app to check for any fire prohibitions or bans in your area - if it’s windy, skip the campfire.
  • Use a fire pit or make a ring of rocks at least three metres from anything flammable.
  • Keep it small. Your campfire shouldn’t be larger than a half-metre by half-metre or roughly a foot-and-a-half by a foot-and-a-half.
  • Have a fire-fighting tool or eight litres of water on hand to extinguish your fire.
  • Never leave your campfire unattended.
  • Ensure that your fire is completely extinguished before going to bed or leaving the area. The coals should be cool to the touch.
  • If a fire ban is in place, or you just want to be extra-cautious, use a CSA-rated propane campfire.

Campfires are currently not banned in the Kamloops Fire Centre and people are encouraged to check with their local jurisdiction (municipality, First Nations, etc.) as they may have their own restrictions in place.

The Kamloops Fire Centre has banned Category 2 open fires as well as other equipment and activities, which adds to a ban on Category 3 open fires that is already in place for the region.

The Category 2 fire ban relates to open fire that burn:

  • Material in one pile not exceeding two metres in height and three metres in width
  • Material concurrently in two piles each not exceeding two metres in height and three metres in width
  • Stubble or grass over an area that does not exceed 0.2 hectares

In addition to these activities, fireworks, sky lanterns, binary exploding targets, air curtain burners and burn barrels or burn cages of any size or description are also prohibited.

The prohibition will remain in effect until noon on Oct. 11 or until the fire centre decides to end it.

Those found violating the ban could be issued a ticket for $1,150, an administrative penalty of up to $10,000, or if convicted in court be fined up to $100,000 or spend one year in jail. If an illegal burn causes or contributes to a wildfire, the individual who started it may be ordered to pay for all firefighting and associated costs.

More information on bans and open burning can be found online here.

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