No B.C. campfire bans for long weekend, despite early wildfire season start

Click to play video: 'Campfires still allowed in B.C. on May long weekend'
Campfires still allowed in B.C. on May long weekend
Despite wildfires already burning B.C.'s forests, there will be no campfire ban this long weekend. As Angela Jung reports, campers say while they understand the importance of a ban, they're excited to have the full camping experience – May 13, 2024

British Columbians won’t be subject to provincial campfire bans when they head out for the upcoming Victoria Day long weekend.

Cliff Chapman, the BC Wildfire Service’s director of operations, confirmed that fires will be allowed at a Monday briefing.

While provincial bans won’t be put in place, officials are urging people to be extra vigilant about monitoring and extinguishing campfires and to phone in any potential wildfires they spot.

“At this time we are not implementing campfire prohibitions,” Chapman said.

“We want people to enjoy the long weekend but do so responsibly, and if you see something, please call it in, even if you think it has already been called in.”

Click to play video: 'Thousands forced from their homes due to wildfire burning near Fort Nelson'
Thousands forced from their homes due to wildfire burning near Fort Nelson

The update comes with wildfire season already in full swing in some parts of the province.

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About 4,700 people have already been evacuated from their homes near Fort Nelson due to the 5,800-hectare Parker Lake wildfire in northeastern B.C.

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Emergency Management Minister Bowinn Ma stressed the need for vigilance over the long weekend, noting that most wildfires this early in the season are a result of human activity.

She also urged people to ensure they’re aware of any fire bans implemented by local or regional authorities.

“Even if there are no fire bans in place, folks who are going out into the wilderness to go camping, we need people to pay extra, extra care … to ensure their campfires are put out at the end,” Ma said.

“Conditions are quite dry across the province, it is necessary for everyone who is enjoying the may long weekend throughout the province to also be mindful of the possibility of fire starts.

As of May 12, virtually all of B.C. was listed with a fire danger rating of “moderate” or higher. Most of the Cariboo region and the northeast were listed as either “high” or “extreme” danger.

Click to play video: 'B.C. crews prepare for intense wildfire approaching Fort Nelson'
B.C. crews prepare for intense wildfire approaching Fort Nelson

While there are no provincial campfire bans in place, provincial bans on larger open fires are already in place throughout much of B.C.

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Large “Category 3” fires are prohibited in all or part of every fire centre in B.C. except for Southeast Fire Centre, while “Category 2” burns of up to three metres in width are banned in the Cariboo, Coastal, Prince George and parts of the Northwest Fire Centre.

As of Monday, there were 133 active wildfires throughout B.C., the majority in the central and northeastern parts of the province.

Thirteen of those fires were classified as “out of control.”

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