British Columbians urged to take wildfire precautions while traveling during long weekend

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      As British Columbia is bracing for another intense wildfire season, the provincial government is urging people to prepare for more wildfires in the province and be cautious of wildfires over the Victoria Day long weekend.

      “As British Columbians head out to enjoy the long weekend, we are urging people to take precautions to be fire and emergency safe,” Premier John Horgan stated in a news release on May 16. “The Province has taken significant steps to make sure that we’re ready for the 2019 fire season, including new investments in fire prevention and fire response, but we all have a part to play to protect our communities and province.”

      Meanwhile, B.C.’s Forest Minister Doug Donaldson is asking people who are staying home during the long weekend to “FireSmart” their properties to reduce wildfire risks.

      “We all need to do our part to reduce wildfire risk and keep communities safe,” Donaldson stated. “I encourage those people staying home over the long weekend to take steps to FireSmart their property.”

      Much of the province has experienced above-average temperatures in recent weeks, which has increased fire danger in many areas, according to a news release by B.C.’s Ministry of Forest, Lands, Natural Resource Operation and Rural Development.

      As of today (May 16), there are at least 10 active wildfires burning across B.C., according to B.C. Wildfire Service. Since April 1, 2019, the B.C. Wildfire Service has responded to 176 fires in the province.

      As the unusually hot and dry weather in recent weeks has raised concerns, British Columbians are urged to report wildfires, unattended campfires, or open burning violations by calling 1-800-663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on cellphones.

      In its 2019 budget, the B.C. government doubled its wildlife prevention, response, and recovery investment to $101 million.

      Summers of 2017 and 2018 were the worst wildfire seasons on record in B.C. which forced the government to declare a province-wide state of emergency. In 2018 wildfire season alone, more than 1.3 million hectares of lands across the province burned.

      Wildfire prevention tips:

      • Do not leave a fire unattended. Completely extinguish the fire before sleeping or leaving campsite.
      • If noticed an unattended fire or out-of-control fire, report it.
      • When camping, make sure lighting and heating devices are cool before refueling.
      • Do not discard cigarettes, matches and smoking materials from moving vehicles. Make sure to completely extinguish cigarettes before disposing them.

      Safety tips during a wildfire:

      • If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
      • Wear protective clothing and footwear.
      • Lock your home
      • Tell someone you left and where you are going.
      • Choose a safe route away from fire hazards.
      • Watch for changes in the speed and direction of fire and smoke.