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As B.C. temperatures heat up, the risk of human-caused wildfires grows

Click to play video: 'Night vision certification to aid in the B.C. wildfire fight' Night vision certification to aid in the B.C. wildfire fight
Vancouver's Talon Helicopters have now received certification to fly at night, using night-vision technology, to help during wildfire fighting activities. Paul Johnson reports – Jul 10, 2020

The BC Wildfire Service is urging everyone to be vigilant and fire safe this upcoming long weekend.

So far this year, there have been 239 wildfires between April 1 and July 29, with around 720 hectares burned.

That’s compared to 570 wildfires and about 12,600 hectares burned in the same period last year.

However, August is typically the most active month for wildfires in the province.

Click to play video: 'Vancouver Island wildfire points to growing danger' Vancouver Island wildfire points to growing danger
Vancouver Island wildfire points to growing danger – Jul 22, 2020

Human-caused fires continue to be a huge issue, the wildfire service said, as they must divert crucial firefighting resources from naturally occurring wildfires.

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“We know people want to get out into the great outdoors, but it’s important that everyone stay vigilant about fire safety,” Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development said in a release.

“Fighting wildfires can be challenging at the best of times, but managing them in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic requires BC Wildfire Service staff to operate with even greater care. I urge everyone to support our crews by using fire responsibly and making sure that their activities don’t spark a wildfire this holiday weekend.”

Read more: Firefighters battle small wildfire south of Kaleden

Campfires are currently allowed in the province, but everyone should keep an ample supply of water nearby and make sure the fire is fully extinguished when they leave the site.

Campfires must not be larger than 0.5 metres high or 0.5 metres wide.

Larger Category 2 and Category 3 open fires are prohibited in some regions, while some jurisdictions may have their own burning restrictions in place.

Read more: B.C. implements category 2 and 3 fire bans for Southeast Fire Centre

Everyone is also reminded to dispose of any cigarette butts or other smoking materials responsibly and make sure any all-terrain vehicles or dirt bikes have a spark arrestor installed.

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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. If the contravention causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person responsible may be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.

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