Campfires will remain permitted in the Kootenays even as they are banned across much of the province starting Thursday (June 8).
While campfires will be prohibited across much of the province, a fire official with the Southeast Fire Centre says regional conditions are monitored daily and a number of data points are reviewed when contemplating a fire prohibition.
“Multiple factors are taken into consideration when assessing wildfire hazards and deciding whether to implement a Category 1 campfire ban,” said Kim Wright, a fire information officer with the Southeast Fire Centre.
“These factors include current and forecasted weather conditions, a number of indices, and resource availability. We have not yet reached these thresholds.”
Valley bottoms across the Southeast Fire Centre are still in green-up, meaning there is increased levels of plant moisture in forest fuels, particularly in lower elevations. Further, there was enough precipitation in May across most of the fire centre that the Build Up Index — the amount of fuel susceptible to burning — is at or near normal for this time of year, according to Wright.
“We are monitoring these factors daily across the [Southeast Fire Centre] and a campfire ban can be implemented fairly rapidly once any of these thresholds are met,” Wright said.
In response to high temperatures and dry conditions, the B.C. Wildfire Service will be implementing campfire bans for the Prince George Fire Centre, Kamloops Fire Centre, the Cariboo Fire and Tsilhqot’in (Xeni Gwet’in) Declared Title Area, Coastal Fire Centre (excluding the Haida Gwaii Forest District) and the Northwest Fire Centre’s Nadina Zone.
Large wildfires are already devastating other parts of the province, particularly in the north, as the Donnie Creek wildfire south of Fort Nelson is now a massive 310,00 hectares, with an nearby fire at Klua Lakes burning another 31,000 hectares.
Another 73,000 hectare-sized fire is burning on the provincial border and into the Northwest Territories.
Open burning — such as Category 2 and Category 3 fires typically used for burning slash or stubble grass — remain banned across the province.
Fire activity in the Kootenays hasn’t been as severe as other parts of the province.
So far this year, the Southeast Fire Centre has reported only 34 fire starts, the second lowest behind the Northwest Fire Centre at 32.