It's a bummer for anyone who has plans to go camping in southwestern B.C. this summer, but a necessary bummer. The provincial government has banned fires from just about everywhere in the region, effective tomorrow (July 18) at noon and remaining in effect right through the summer, to October 19, 2018.
"The Coastal Fire Centre is implementing these prohibitions due to high temperatures and no rain in the immediate forecast," reads a July 17 media release from the B.C. ministry of forests, lands, natural resource operations and rural development.
"Since April 1, 2018, 69% of wildfires in the Coastal Fire Centre have been caused by people," it continues. "Human-caused wildfires are entirely preventable, and can divert critical firefighting resources away from naturally occurring wildfires."
The ban applies to even small campfires on both public and private properties.
Camping stoves that use gas, propane, or briquettes can still be used.
"Anyone found in contravention of an open burning prohibition may be issued a ticket for $1,150, required to pay an administrative penalty of $10,000 or, if convicted in court, fined up to $100,000 and/or sentenced to one year in jail," the release continues. "If the contravention causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person responsible may be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs."
B.C.'s 2017 wildfire season was the worst in generations. It "dwarfed the historic records for area burned in British Columbia at well over a million hectares, or 12,000 square kilometres," read a July 2017 government media release. "The effects on people, wildlife and our forest economy will be felt for many years to come.
"Consider also that 2017 was the driest year ever recorded in many parts of B.C.—by a significant margin, according to Environment Canada," it continued. "Penticton, Vernon, Kamloops, Kelowna and Cranbrook all had their driest summer since records have been kept."
That July 2017 release from the provincial government noted that that year's fires were due, "in large part," to climate change.