B.C. parks ban barbecues, campfires
120 extra firefighters coming from Ontario and New Brunswick.
Last Updated: Thursday, July 23, 2009 | 4:37 PM PT
The extreme risk of fires has prompted officials across southern B.C. to crack down on any activities that could spark a forest fire.
The Vancouver Park Board on Wednesday banned smoking, open fires and wood and charcoal barbecues in local parks after raising the fire hazard rating to extreme due to hot, dry weather. Propane and gas barbecues are still permitted.
One fire started by a discarded cigarette was extinguished this week in Stanley Park, said officials. Visitors to parks are asked to take extra caution, particularly in heavily forested areas, stay on trails and report and signs of smoke or fire by calling 911.
Across the wider Metro Vancouver area, the fire danger rating for parks managed by the regional district is high, and smoking is not permitted in regional parks, but barbeques and campfires are still allowed in designated campsites, as of Thursday morning.
The fire hazard ratings match the high and extreme fire danger ratings issued by the provincial Forest Service for much of southern B.C., where open fires and campfires are banned on Crown land and provincial parks.
Firefighters have been battling a number of dangerous fires in B.C. including three in the West Bank area of Kelowna that led 11,000 people to evacuate and one near Lillooet that broke out on Wednesday.
Extra firefighters on the way
About 120 firefighters from Ontario and New Brunswick are also on their way to B.C. to assist local crews, Forests and Range Minister Pat Bell said in a statement released on Thursday.
"With the three large fires our crews are fighting in West Kelowna, and the current outlook for continued hot and dry weather, we're taking advantage of the resource-sharing agreement we have with other provinces, and asking for additional crews," said Bell.
"July and August are the peak months for forest fires, so we're ensuring we're fully prepared. By noon [Friday], fire bans will cover all the province and we ask the public remain vigilant at all times to reduce the number of human-caused fires, which divert our resources," said Bell.
Since April 1, fire crews have responded to more than 1,124 fires across B.C, just over 50 per cent of which have been human-caused, according to the provincial officials.
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