Effective at 1 p.m. (Mountain) on Friday, July 24, both Category 2 and Category 3 fires will be prohibited throughout the Southeast Fire Centre’s jurisdiction, which includes Fernie, the Elk Valley and South Country.

The BC Wildfire Service is implementing this prohibition to help prevent human caused wildfires and to protect public safety. The areas affected by this prohibition included the Southeast Fire Centre’s jurisdiction, the Rocky Mountain Natural Resource District and the Selkirk Natural Resource District.

Category 2 open burn prohibitions include the following activities and equipment:
* the burning of any waste, slash or other materials;
* open fires larger than 0.5 metres wide by 0.5 metres high;
* stubble or grass fires of any size over any area;
* the use of sky lanterns;
* the use of fireworks, including firecrackers;
* the use of binary exploding targets;
* the use of burn barrels or burn cages of any size or description except when used for a campfire as defined by the wildfire regulation; and
* the use of air curtain burners.

Category 3 open burn prohibited activities include:
* any fire larger than two metres high by three metres wide;
* three or more concurrently burning piles no larger than two metres high by three metres wide;
* burning of one or more windrows; and
* burning of stubble or grass over an area greater than 0.2 hectares.

This prohibition does not ban campfires that are a half-metre high by a high-metre wide or smaller, and does not apply to cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes.

This prohibition is being implemented due to increased fire danger ratings caused by a warming trend throughout the Southeast Fire Centre. Anyone who has been conducting Category 2 or 3 open fires anywhere in the Southeast Fire Centre must extinguish any such fire by the July 24 deadline. This prohibition will remain in place until the public is otherwise notified.

This prohibition applies to all public and private land, unless specified otherwise (e.g., in a local government bylaw). Check with local government authorities for any other restrictions before lighting any fire.

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 $100,000 or, if convicted in court, fined up to $100,000 and/or sentenced to up 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, as well as the value of the resources damaged or destroyed by the wildfire.

The government’s natural resource officers and conservation officers conduct regular patrols throughout British Columbia and monitor high-risk activities. These officers work closely with BC Wildfire Service staff to investigate the cause of wildfires and any improper use of fire when an open burning prohibition is in effect.

The Southeast Fire Centre extends from the U.S. border in the south to Mica Dam in the north, and from the Okanagan Highlands and Monashee Mountains in the west, to the B.C.-Alberta border in the east.

To report a wildfire, unattended campfire or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.

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