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Province of British Columbia
For Immediate Release
March 30, 2016
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
BC Wildfire Service
Northwest Fire Centre urges caution with open burning

SMITHERS – The Northwest Fire Centre is encouraging the public to exercise caution with any outdoor burning activities this spring, due to an increased wildfire risk.

As spring progresses, dead grass and other vegetation dries out quickly in snow-free areas due to increased temperatures, wind and a lack of precipitation. Wildfires in these situations can spread very rapidly, especially when driven by wind.

FireSmart activities are encouraged at this time of year to mitigate wildfire risk. Rural property owners are encouraged to consult the newly updated Homeowner’s FireSmart Manual, online at:

Information about safe backyard burning practices is available on the BC Wildfire Service website at:

Anyone wishing to conduct an open burn should take the following precautions:

  • Ensure that enough people, water and tools are on hand to control the fire and prevent it from escaping.
  • Do not burn during windy conditions. Weather conditions can change quickly and the wind may carry embers to other combustible material and start new fires.
  • Create a fireguard at least one metre around the planned fire site by clearing away twigs, grass, leaves and other combustible material.
  • If planning a large burn, consider conducting smaller burns around the perimeter beforehand to create a fuel break and help stop the fire from spreading beyond its intended size. Each of these fires should be kept small and must be completely extinguished before starting a new fire.
  • Never leave a fire unattended.
  • Make sure that your fire is completely extinguished and the ashes are cold to the touch before you leave the area for any length of time.
  • Pay attention to changing weather conditions and follow all burning regulations to help reduce the number of preventable wildfires.

Before conducting any burn, individuals should check with their local fire department, municipality or regional district to check if there are any open burning restrictions or bylaws in effect.

If people are planning to do any large-scale industrial burning or conduct a grass burn larger than 0.2 hectares (Category 3 fires), they first need to obtain a burn registration number by calling 1 888 797-1717. Burn registration numbers are available free of charge.

A poster explaining the different categories of open burning is available online at:

Before conducting an open burn, people must always check venting conditions. If venting conditions are rated “poor” or “fair”, open burning is restricted. The venting index can be found at:

In British Columbia, the Wildfire Act specifies a person’s legal obligations when using fire in or within one kilometre of forested land or grassland. If an outdoor burn escapes and causes a wildfire, the person responsible may be held accountable for damages and fire suppression costs.

To report a wildfire or unattended campfire, please call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone. Up-to-date information on burning restrictions and current wildfire activity can be obtained by calling 1 888 3-FOREST and it is also available online at

You can also follow the latest wildfire news:

Media Contact:
Olivia Pojar
Fire Information Officer
BC Wildfire Service
Northwest Fire Centre
250 847-6639

Connect with the Province of B.C. at: