A Category 2 burning ban goes into effect across most of Vancouver Island effective June 7. — File photo

Vancouver Island burn ban goes into effect

Campfires still allowed under Category 2 fire prohibition

An open fire ban for most of Vancouver Island goes into effect at noon June 7, but campfires are still in play for those seeking to enjoy the outdoors.

The B.C. Wildfire Service announced this week that Category 2 open fires will be prohibited throughout the Coastal Fire Centre’s jurisdiction, except in Haida Gwaii and the Fog Zone across the northern tip of Vancouver Island, to help prevent human-caused wildfires and protect public safety.

The prohibition will remain in effect until Oct. 20 or until the public is otherwise notified. This prohibition covers all B.C. parks, crown lands and private lands within the Coastal Fire Centre, but does not apply within the boundaries of a local government that has forest fire prevention bylaws in place and is serviced by a fire department.

Please check with local government authorities for any other restrictions before lighting any fire.

Specifically, this prohibition applies to: the burning of any material (piled or unpiled) smaller than two metres high and three metres wide; the burning of stubble or grass fires over an area less than 2,000 square metres; the use of fireworks, firecrackers, sky lanterns, burning barrels or burning cages of any size or description; and the use of binary exploding targets (e.g. for rifle target practice).

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

A poster explaining the different categories of open burning is available online at: http://ow.ly/znny309kJv5. People lighting a campfire must maintain a fireguard by removing flammable debris from the campfire area and they must have a hand tool or at least eight litres of water available nearby to properly extinguish the fire. Ensure that the fire is completely extinguished and the ashes are cold to the touch before leaving the area for any length of time.

Anyone who lights, fuels or uses an open fire when a fire prohibition is in place or fails to comply with an open fire prohibition may be issued a ticket for $1,150 or, if convicted in court, be fined up to $100,000 and/or sentenced to one year in jail. If the contravention causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person responsible may be subject to a penalty of up to $100,000 and ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.

To report a wildfire, unattended campfire or open burning violation, call 1-800-663-5555 toll-free, or *5555 on a cellphone. For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, go to: www.bcwildfire.ca.

— NEWS Staff and B.C. Wildfire Service release