Fire danger rating rises to extreme

Grand Forks is presently rated 5, the highest rating, for extreme wildfire danger at the Southeast Fire Centre.

While all the dry, hot weather is nice for barbecues and beach visits, it is making for a dangerous wildfire situation.

Grand Forks is presently rated 5, the highest rating, for extreme wildfire danger at the Southeast Fire Centre. The city received the rating on Monday after a few days with a 4 (high danger).

Fanny Barnard of the Southeast Fire Centre said that residents need to be cautious particularly around campfires, which are not presently banned.

“We have had wardens out on patrol and there has been a lot of abandoned campfires throughout the Southeast Fire Centre,” said Barnard. “It’s still really important for people to know before they leave an area for any amount of time that the ashes have to be cool to the touch. Anytime you light a campfire you need to have eight litres of water or more and tools such as a shovel to properly extinguish it.”

Barnard said that anyone leaving a campfire burning could be fined up to $350. They could also be held responsible for the full cost of fighting any escaped fire.

“We had one initial attack crew respond to an escaped campfire in Cranbrook,” she said. “But it’s out now.”

The fire rating is based on a number of criteria collected at each respective weather centre including the build-up index for humidity, moisture of combustible materials, and weather.

“In April we’ve had 50 per cent of normal precipitation at the Castlegar airport,” said Barnard. “The fuel is much dryer than normal. There was some precipitation in Grand Forks recently but most of the precipitation has been really scattered. There hasn’t been heavy rain fall.”

Barnard also stresses that campers need to take wind into account when selecting a site to build a campfire.

“It has to be away from combustible materials, obviously,” she said. “You need to have a guard built around it deep into the soil. Only light what you can reasonable expect to put out if it does escape.”

The Southeast Fire Centre will be releasing an open fire restriction category 2 and 3 for the entire Southeast region.

“The ban will take into account industrial burning, backyard burning, barrels, fireworks, sky lanterns, grassfires…anything but a campfire less than a half metre by a half metre in size or camping stoves that use briquettes or propane,” said Barnard.

The fire danger rating for Christina Lake is 4 (high rating), while the rest of the Boundary is 3 (moderate rating).