B.C. government urges fire safety ahead of long weekend

Province hoping message mitigates wildfire risk

The British Columbia government, with the aim of mitigating wildfire risk, is urging residents to be fire safe heading into the long weekend. (File photo)

Hold on to your butts… or at least don’t recklessly discard them.

The British Columbia government is sending out a message encouraging people to responsibly dispose of cigarette butts and to follow proper campfire protocol — among a handful of other recommendations — as the upcoming long weekend approaches. The aim: to mitigate wildfire risk.

“Unseasonably warm and dry conditions in parts of the province this spring have resulted in higher fire danger ratings in some areas, so British Columbians are urged to exercise caution with any allowed fire use over the Canada Day long weekend,” the message, sent as a news release, reads.

“B.C.’s landscapes can dry out quickly and sometimes it doesn’t take much to spark a wildfire. Human-caused fires are completely preventable and unnecessarily divert crucial firefighting resources away from naturally occurring wildfires.”

Read also: ‘Irresponsible’ cigarette tossing blamed for two brushfires on Pat Bay highway

Read also: Langford fire douses six fires in two days – five from cigarette butts

Read also: Victoria driver pays $575 fine for tossing lit cigarette onto street

The B.C. Wildfire Service responded to 405 wildfires between April 1 and June 26, according to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. About 70 per cent — or 293 — of those fires are suspected to be caused by people.

Residents and vacationers planning to start a campfire are urged to follow proper safety and precautions. Smokers must dispose of cigarette butts and other smoking material responsibly. And those planning to light fireworks should know that some regions prohibit the devices.

According to the ministry, anyone who lights a campfire is legally responsible for making sure the fire does not escape.

Campfires are currently permitted throughout the province — at least within the B.C. Wildfire Service’s jurisdiction — but the ministry is encouraging people to check with their local governments for any potential burning restrictions or bylaws.

Natural resource and conservation officers conduct regular patrols, looking out for high-risk activities, the ministry’s message reads.

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