The recent spell of hot, dry weather isn’t just a concern for Interior B.C. communities, it’s also vital to be smart about fires at home, say officials with the Saanich Fire Department.
A campfire ban across all of Vancouver Island and the rest of the Coastal Fire Centre area came into effect last Thursday.
For Saanich residents, that means campfires are not permitted in any parks or beaches, and Tiki torches and sky lanterns are also not permitted.
However, barbeques that use propane or briquettes are still able to be used in public places, said Rich Pala, assistant chief of fire prevention with the Saanich Fire Department.
“Our policy right now us we don’t allow any open air burning,” Pala said. “But people are still doing it.”
As of Monday, there had been reports of 21 outdoor fires in the municipality this summer, seven of which were beach fires, Pala said.
No beach fire permits have been given out in Saanich for the past two years, he added.
“In [Saanich], a small percent of outdoor fires are started by natural causes,” Pala said.
Saanich Fire Department urges people to ensure their cigarette butts are out and to avoid using planter boxes as ash trays due to possible nitrogen in the soil, which can ignite a fire.
Pala said people should keep the outside of their homes well maintained by keeping the grass cut and watered within rules of water restrictions.
The Coastal Fire Centre instigated the campfire ban on Vancouver Island because of minimal rain and risks of wind and lightning, said Mike McCulley, fire information officer at the Coastal Fire Centre in Parksville.
“The way the conditions are right now, it’s going to take a fairly significant amount of rain before we consider lifting any type of [fire] ban,” he said.
Of the 86 fires in the coastal fire centre region so far this year, 57 have been human-caused, McCulley said.
“The key message there is that we really need people to be more diligent around fire,” he said.
“Anything people can do by being very conservative around fire would be much appreciated.”
The fire ban will be in effect until Oct. 15 unless the public is notified otherwise.