Campfire ban now in effect

If you had planned to spend some time around a campfire this weekend, there are a couple of nearby areas that will no longer allow you to do that.

For the first time this season a camp fire ban has gone into effect in B.C., affecting two of the seven zones within the Kamloops Fire District.

As of noon Friday, all open burning, including campfires and fireworks, is prohibited across the Merritt and Lillooet fire zones to help prevent human-caused wildfires and protect public safety.

"Usually we institute a campfire ban across the entire fire centre. This year we're doing it a bit differently on a zone by zone basis," says Fire information Officer Kevin Skrepnek.

The Lillooet zone is on the west side of the fire district, while the Merritt zone shares a portion of its western border with Lillooet, extends as far south as the U.S. border and extends east roughly along the Okanagan Connector as far as Pennask Lake.

Skrepnek says those two areas are especially dry.

"We make those decisions based on what's coming in from our weather stations, and we have 42 of those, and the situation in those two zones was they had gotten a lot less precipitation than we had throughout the rest of the fire centre. They are pretty dry out there and there's a lot of fuel to burn."

Making matters worse, Skrepnek says there are still far too many careless campers who don't take proper care.

"We had some patrols in those zones over the last few weeks looking for unattended campfires and we found quite a few."

The ban is in place until September 30, but if the weather improves the ban could be lifted. Any campsite you're at will be well marked as to whether or not open burning is allowed.

If you're tempted to ignore the ban, remember the fine is $340, and if the fire were to burn out of control, you would also be on the hook for the cost of fighting the blaze.

"In the areas the ban isn't in effect, like the Okanagan, we are increasing patrols across the board. So, even though fires are permitted as long as they are within a half metre by a half metre, we're still going to have Fire Wardens out to make sure that people are not just abandoning them."

To get the latest information on fire restrictions and to see a map of the areas affected by the ban, visit the B.C. Wildfire website.

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