For the fifth day in a row Whistler sits at an extreme fire danger rating, with the hot and dry weather expected to continue through the BC Day long weekend.
The rating increased from high to extreme on Monday, July 28. Official data for today, Aug. 2, has not yet been posted, although the BC Wildfire Management Branch predicts the rating will remain the same until at least Tuesday, Aug. 5, as per data collected from a weather station at the base of Blackcomb Mountain.
An email from Whistler Fire Rescue service clerk Jas Rai dated July 30 noted the local department’s intentions to “investigate with (the BC Wildfire Management Branch) their changes in the ratings today.”
Currently, no fires are permitted in Whistler, and only propane and briquette barbecues are allowed in residential subdivisions, provided they are used in a safe manner, meet municipal regulatory requirements and have proper clearance from structures. Only propane barbecues are currently permitted in parks, provided they are not on grass or located near any trees.
After three consecutive days of an extreme rating, all high-risk construction activity within 10 metres of the forest interface area is also prohibited. All other work must maintain a minimum two-hour fire watch after construction activities end. All construction restrictions will be lifted once the danger rating drops to moderate or low.
With the muggy weather expected to continue throughout much of the province into next week, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thompson advised the public to obey all campfire bans or open fire prohibitions this holiday weekend.
"If you're out in the backcountry or visiting B.C.'s beautiful parks on the long weekend, it's crucial that you adhere to any fire prohibitions that are in place,” Thompson stated in a release. “Wildfires can ignite quickly in these weather conditions and could damage our forests, homes and communities."
Anyone found in contravention of an open fire prohibition may be issued a ticket for $345 or, if convicted in court, may be fined up to $100,000 and sentenced to one year in jail.
On average, nearly half of all wildfires are caused by human activity.
Visit www.bcwildfire.ca for up-to-date fire danger ratings.