British Columbia

Province-wide fire ban issued due to tinder dry conditions

Most of the lower mainland is now under an 'extreme" fire danger rating as the drought turns lawns and campsites tinder dry.

Lower Mainland municipalities declare extreme fire risk

More than 150 wildfires are burning across B.C., sparking campfire and fireworks bans, that span the province.

B.C. has declared a ban on fires, campfires and fireworks across most of the province, effective noon, July 3rd.

"B.C. is under a campfire ban and this is a reflection of fire rating risk across the province," said Forest Minister Steve Thomson, adding that all resources are tied up fighting lightning-caused blazes. " (We) can't be dealing with human caused fires."

All of the Lower Mainland is also under an 'extreme" fire danger rating as municipalities ban backyard fires, fireworks and barbecues in local parks.

"It's kind of unprecedented for this time of year," said Gord Parker, the deputy chief of Port Moody Fire Rescue.

"Normally we see some some nice weather but usually it's followed by periods of rain."

The extreme fire risk warning means fires can easily ignite and spread, with dry grasses acting as kindling for any spark.

A "house-sized" brush fire ignited near Buntzen Lake in Indian Arm, near the power station. This blaze was put out by Sasamat Volunteer fire fighters, but others are not proving so easy. (Steve Johansen/@OrganicOcean)

"Really, you could drop a cigarette, or a spark from a power tool could actually start a fire," said Parker

The announcements come as crews respond to more than 150 wildfires burning in B.C.  Most are not near populated areas, but some are coming close.

In Ladysmith a hay field blaze spread to grass and trees outside Nanaimo Thursday, and 12 homes had to be evacuated before it was doused.

Fire crews are battling a wildfire that broke out Friday afternoon in Joe Rich, east of Kelowna.

In Sechelt a fire raged overnight only 10 kilometres from the town centre.

The dry conditions that sparked the bans aren't usually seen in B.C. until the end of July, August or even September, said Parker, who added there are scorched conditions across B.C.

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