News » Whistler

Burning Prohibitions start early

A dry spring and hot temperatures have forced the Coastal Fire Centre to ban industrial and agricultural burning a month earlier than they did last year.



Effective midnight May 20 all backyard, industrial and agricultural fires will be banned until further notice, according to Starr Munro from the Coastal Fire Centre.

"Usually we put in backyard burning restrictions by the end of May and break the restrictions up a little so by the end of June we’ve banned industrial and agricultural burning," Munro said.

"This year we’ve chosen to stick it on early for a couple of reasons. One, it’s extremely dry out there, you know in April we didn’t see nearly as much rainfall as we needed.

"What we’re seeing is substantially increased fire activity as well, so when we’re having fires we’re seeing behaviour that isn’t typical for this time of year which tells us that we’re still recovering from the dryness of last year.

"And as well the fires are digging in really deep so when a fire does start we have to keep watching them because they’re going really deep into the ground and then re-smoldering again as it gets hot.

"The other reason is that the majority of our fire starts this year have been as a result of open burning.

"People have thought their fires are out but after a couple of hot days and high winds they’ve been re-lighting.

"These things are typical during a fire season, it’s just that we’re seeing it all much earlier this year."

The CFC has classified backyard burning as burning woody material in hand piles not greater than two metres in height and three metres in diameter; and burning areas of grass or stubble in no more than 0.2 hectares.

Industrial and agricultural burning is defined as large open fires that are typically machine piled to dispose of waste woody material. Burning reference numbers normally required for industrial and

agricultural burning will also not be issued for the duration of this prohibition.

The fire restrictions will not apply to the use of fires more than one kilometre from a forest, or within areas regulated by local government burning bylaws.

It will also not apply to industrial dry-land sort areas covered by a Ministry of Environment waste management permit, or campfires designated for cooking, warmth or ceremonial purposes.

Munro said the bans were being implemented in an attempt to stay ahead and/or avoid problems from developing.

"It’s hard to say what the weather will be like, but based on what we’ve seen we’re preparing for a dry summer," she said.

"In terms of what people can do, we just need people to become extremely aware of what they can do to fire-smart their property because our big concern now is camp fires and cigarette burns."

Cigarette butts started many of the fires in the interior last year and Munro said smokers needed to be aware of the specific dangers in the coastal region.

"We tend to have a lot more grass land on the coast than in the interior so highways burns are more common and it’s something everyone needs to be cautious about."

To report a fire call 911 or the wildfire hotline on 1-800-663-5555.