Smoke from regional fires continues to fill the Grand Forks valley.
The most prevalent cause of smoke this week is likely from a fire near Slocan Park, approximately two kilometres north of Hwy 6. Four helicopters and 30 firefighters are currently battling the blaze that is about 100 hectares and remains uncontained. An evacuation alert is in place for residents of Slocan Park and Crescent Valley.
Also in the region is the White Tail Brook fire about 10 kilometres east of Canal Flats. That fire is about 1,550 hectares and double the resources than the Slocan Park fire are on site. It is 40 per cent contained.
There are also a large number of wildfires in Washington State, primarily occurring in Chelan and Okanogan counties in the north-central section of the state. The Carlton Complex fire (now 67 percent contained) in Okanogan County is officially the largest recorded wildfire in Washington at more than 250,000 acres.
B.C.’s Southeast Fire Centre issued a report saying there were eight new fires in the region this week, all of them lightning-caused. Total fires to date this fiscal year (beginning April 1) are 217, with 3,126 hectares burned. Provincially there have been 969 fires, which burned a total of 208,663 hectares.
The Boundary’s danger class rating is extreme.
A campfire ban has begun in Grand Forks and the surrounding area. The ban, which went into effect on Tuesday, Aug. 5 and covers the entire Southeast Fire Centre, was implemented to help prevent human-caused wildfires and protect public safety.
“With the current trend of warm and dry weather we’ve had, wildfires have displayed a very aggressive behaviour and required additional fire suppression resources,” said Fanny Bernard, fire information officer for the Southeast Fire Centre. “The warm and dry weather and the amount of lightning we’ve had hasn’t been accompanied by rain. Because of that, any resources we have have to be able to respond to these naturally occurring wildfires.”
The campfire ban will remain in place until the public is notified it has been rescinded.
There has been an open burning prohibition which was implemented on July 2 and continues. Prohibited activities include: campfires; the burning of any waste, slash or other materials; stubble or grass fires of any size or description; the use of burning barrels of any size or description; and the use of fireworks, sky lanterns, tiki torches or chimeas (outdoor fire pits).
The prohibition does not apply to cooking stoves that use gas, propane or
briquettes, or to a portable campfire apparatus with a CSA or ULC rating
that uses briquettes, liquid or gaseous fuel, so long as the height of
the flame is less than 15 centimetres. The use of a campfire apparatus
that does not meet these specifications is prohibited.
The open burning prohibition covers all BC Parks, Crown lands and private
lands, but does not apply within the boundaries of local governments that
have forest fire prevention bylaws and are serviced by fire departments.
Please check with local governments for any other restrictions before
lighting any fire.
Anyone found in violation of a fire prohibition, including campfires, may
be issued a ticket for up to $345. Anyone who causes a wildfire through
arson or recklessness may be fined up to $1 million, spend up to three
years in prison and be held accountable for associated firefighting
Bernard said that generally people are very responsible with their campfires in the Southeast Fire Centre.
“So far we’ve had very few campfire caused fires and no big fires in the Southeast Fire Centre caused by campfires,” she said.
There have been no wildfires reported in the Grand Forks area recently, said Bernard. “We did have one near Blue Joint Mountain but that one is 100 per cent contained,” she said.
Currently, there is a 100 hectare fire burning in the Slocan Park area. That fire, which was caused by lightning, is still uncontained as of press time. Forty-seven homes in Slocan Park and Crescent Valley were evacuated.
The Slocan Park fire was one of 60 new fires that broke out in the Kootenay region over the weekend.
Bernard said it’s very important that residents be vigilant in reporting wildfires.
“The public reports approximately one third of the wildfires in B.C.,” she said.
Anyone seeing a fire is urged to call 1-800-663-5555 toll-free number or *5555 on most mobile networks.
“Even if it’s in an area that people think lots of people would have seen it and called it in—it’s good to call it in anyway,” Bernard said.