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Learn before you burn: BC Wildfire urges caution with open burns this weekend

If a fire escapes, the person responsible may hold the tab for the costs of fighting the fire and the damages it caused.
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Increased wind activity in the Prince George Fire Centre is anticipated this weekend leading the BC Wildfire Service to urge the public to exercise caution if planning to conduct open burns. 

"Anyone wishing to light an open fire must watch for changing weather conditions and follow all burning regulations to help reduce the number of preventable wildfires,” Fire Information Officer Amanda Reynolds said in a release. 

Before lighting any fire, check in with the local fire department, municipality or regional district to find out if any open burning restrictions or bylaws are in place, she added.

If a fire escapes, the person responsible may be on the hook for the costs of fighting the fire and the damages it caused. 

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On Friday, dramatically increased fines for an assortment of wildfire-related violations took effect.

Penalties for ignoring fire restrictions more than tripled to $1,100 from $345.

Failing to properly put out a burning substance, such as a cigarette butt, could also net you a $575 fine.

On average, 30 to 40 per cent of wildfires each year are caused by humans, BC Wildfire says. 

Here are some tips from the BC Wildfire Service to remember:

  •  Ensure that enough people, water and tools are on hand to control the fire and prevent it from escaping.
  •  Do not burn during windy conditions. Weather conditions can change quickly and the wind may carry embers to other combustible material and start new fires.
  •  Create a fireguard at least one metre around the planned fire site by clearing away twigs, grass, leaves and other combustible material.
  •  If you are planning a large burn, consider conducting smaller burns around the perimeter beforehand to create a fuel break and help prevent the fire from spreading beyond its intended size. Each of these fires should be kept small and must be completely extinguished before starting a new fire.
  •  Never leave a fire unattended.
  •  Make sure that your fire is completely extinguished and the ashes are cold to touch before you leave the area for any length of time.

Anyone planning to any large-scale industrial burning or conduct a grass burn larger than 0.2 hectares must obtain a burn registration number aged of time by calling 1-888-797-1717.

Up-to-date information on burning restrictions and current wildfire activity is available online here, or by calling 1-888-336-7378.

To report a wildfire, call 1-800-663-555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.