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Okanagan-Shuswap joining much of B.C. in a ban on large-scale open burning

Category 3 prohibition does not include Category 1 campfires or Category 2 open fires
A prohibition of Category 3 open fires comes into effect in the Kamloops Fire Centre on Friday, May 3, 2024. (File photo)

Category 3 open burning will be prohibited in the Okanagan-Shuswap as of noon on Friday, May 3.

The BC Wildfire Service BCWS announced Wednesday, April 24, that a five-month prohibition throughout the Kamloops Fire Centre is being enacted to prevent human-caused wildfires and protect public safety. It applies only to Category 3 open fires, which are described as

• Material concurrently in three or more piles each not exceeding two metres in height and 3 metres in width;

• Material in one or more piles each exceeding 2 m in height or 3 m in width;

• one or more windrows, each not exceeding 200m in length or 15 m in width;

• stubble or grass over an area exceeding 0.2 hectares.

The prohibition applies to all public and private land within the Kamloops Fire Centre, including the Lillooet, Kamloops, Merritt, Vernon and Penticton zones, unless specified otherwise in enactment such as local government bylaw.

“Before lighting any fire, people should check with local government authorities to see if any other burning restrictions are in effect,” said the BCWS, noting the prohibition does not include Category 1 campfires or Category 2 open fires.

Other parts of the province have had a prohibition of Category 2 and 3 open fires since March 28, including the Cariboo and Prince George fire centres, and across the Bulkley and Nadina fire zones in the North Fire Centre.

Drought conditions still cover much of B.C., and fire officials worry about another challenging season after last year’s record destruction.

A wildfire evacuation alert issued in the Interior over the weekend for the tiny town of Endako has now been rescinded, while another alert for the Burgess Creek wildfire in the Cariboo remains in place, with residents told to be ready to leave on short notice.

The 1,800-hectare Burgess Creek fire about 600 kilometres north of Vancouver continues to burn out of control, according to the wildfire service website, while the 25-hectare blaze that had been threatening Endako, a further 400 kilometres northwest, has now been contained.

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, said the BCWS. If the contravention causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person responsible may be 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 cell phone. For up-to-date information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, call 1 888 3-FOREST or visit:

— with a file from The Canadian Press

Read more: Caution urged after open burns get away from Columbia Shuswap property owners

Read more: UPDATE: B.C. interior wildfires being held

Lachlan Labere

About the Author: Lachlan Labere

Editor, Salmon Arm Observer
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