UPDATE: Fire ban lifted, but beach fires prohibited in Parksville-Qualicum Beach

Coastal Fire Centre rescinds Island campfire ban; some prohibitions remain

  • Sep. 19, 2017 9:43 a.m.

Area campers will be able to revive that full camping feeling now that campfires are permitted again. Just don’t light them on local beaches.

The City of Parksville announced Tuesday, Sept. 19, that campfires are once again permitted throughout the Parksville Fire Protection Area, due to “decreased risk of wildland urban interface fires.”

The lifting of the closure came one day after the B.C. Wildfire Service announced it had rescinded the campfire prohibition that was in effect within the Coastal Fire Centre’s jurisdiction.

The use of tiki torches (and similar kinds of torches), outdoor stoves, gas stoves and other portable campfire equipment is also now permitted.

A map of the affected areas is available online.

People are reminded that recreational fires must not be larger than 60 centimetres (24 inches) in diameter in a fire pit that is constructed to confine the fire.

In the Parksville Qualicum Beach region, beach fires are prohibited at any time from the Qualicum River in the north to Craig Bay in the south, as the entire stretch of the coast is designated as a Wildlife Management Area.

Violators could be subject to a fine of up to $1,150, said Tyrone Heigh, assistant chief of the Parksville Volunteer Fire Department.

On other parts of the coast where they are allowed, beach fires must be below the high tide line, the Coastal Fire Centre reported.

“All recreational fires must be attended by an adult with equipment to extinguish the fire (i.e. a water bucket or hose),” says acting deputy fire chief Kelly Bellefleur of the Campbell River Fire Department.

“Make sure the fire is completely extinguished and ashes are cold to the touch before leaving the area.”

Some activities, however, are still prohibited within the Coastal Fire Centre’s jurisdiction, including the use of:

• fireworks (including firecrackers)

• sky lanterns

• binary exploding targets

• burn barrels or burn cages of any size or description

The current prohibition on Category 2 and Category 3 open fires also remains in place throughout the Coast Fire Centre’s jurisdiction, except for the Fog Zone on Vancouver Island.

Members of the public are reminded that local governments may have their own burning bylaws in place and campfires may still be prohibited within those areas. People should always check with local authorities before lighting any fire of any size.

Some parts of southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands have received very little rainfall in recent weeks. Campers and other outdoor recreationalists are reminded to take the following precautions when lighting a campfire:

• Select the campfire site carefully and remove all leaves, twigs and other flammable material from the area.

• Create a fire break by scraping away debris right down to the dirt all around the fire.

• Use a fire pit or put a ring of rocks around the campfire site that is at least three metres away from trees, shrubs, structures and other flammable materials.

• Campfires must not be bigger than a half-metre wide and a half-metre high.

• Never leave a campfire unattended.

• Keep at least eight litres of water or a shovel close by at all times to extinguish your campfire properly.

• Make sure that your campfire is completely extinguished before going to sleep. 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 found in contravention of an open burning prohibition may be issued a ticket for $1,150, required to pay an administrative penalty of up to $10,000 or, if convicted in court, 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 ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.

The Coastal Fire Centre covers all of the area west of the height of land on the Coast Mountain Range from the U.S.-Canada border at Manning Park, including Tweedsmuir South Provincial Park in the north, the Sunshine Coast, the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and Haida Gwaii.

To report a wildfire or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone. For up-to-date information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, call 1 888 3-FOREST.

People can also follow the latest wildfire news on:

Twitter

Facebook

Quick Facts:

• The Fog Zone is a two-kilometre strip of land along the outer coast of Vancouver Island, stretching from Owen Point (near Port Renfrew) north to the tip of Vancouver Island and around to the boundary of the District of Port Hardy. This strip extends inland two kilometres from the high tide point.

• A map of the Fog Zone is available online

— NEWS Staff

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