The Elk Valley is experiencing a below-average snowpack and this potentially does not bode well for Fernie. Last spring we had an above-average snowpack and we experienced one of BC’s worse fire-hazard seasons ever. I’ll take the early spring and hope for consistent rain throughout the summer months!
Nothing could be worse for Fernie that the devastating fire of 1904 that enveloped most of the City.
Fire danger ratings are not calculated this early however one has to be aware that a warning on spring burning will be forthcoming. Every fire season a majority of our wildfires are human caused, hopefully this year will be different.
“As the snow melts, it does not take long for grass to dry out and become flammable, especially in windy conditions,” says the the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
The BC Wildfire Service advises anyone wishing to light an open fire must watch for changing weather, follow all burning regulations to reduce the number of preventable wildfires, and take the following precautions:
– 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 the touch before you leave the area for any length of time.
Before conducting a burn, check with your local fire department, municipality and regional district to find out if any open burning restrictions or bylaws are in effect.
If you are planning to do any large-scale industrial burning or conduct a grass burn larger than 0.2 hectares (Category 3 fires), you must obtain a burn registration number ahead of time by calling 1 888 797-1717.
Be advised that, if your fire escapes, you may be liable for fire suppression costs and damages. It is the responsibility of the individual to ensure that they are burning in a safe, responsible manner that is in accordance with current restrictions.
Up-to-date information on burning restrictions and current wildfire activity can be obtained by calling 1 888 3-FOREST or online at: www.bcwildfire.ca