So far this year the Kamloops Fire Centre has dealt with fewer forest fires than a year ago, however of the 28 fires that have burned in the region, every single one of them has been caused by humans.
The Kamloops Fire Centre will put a restriction on open burning this Friday, limiting the size of open burns in what will likely be the first step towards a full campfire ban coming at some point later this summer.
In the Central Okanagan Regional District, open burning has not been allowed in the regional district or its municipalities since May 1. Some areas of the Kamloops Fire Centre region are already into extreme fire hazard (Salmon Arm, Clearwater) while elsewhere the fire hazard ranges from moderate to high.
The restriction to limit the size of open burns is a regular restriction that takes place every year, although areas like Salmon Arm and Clearwater that normally wouldn’t be included in the restriction have been included this year due to the higher than normal fire hazard.
“Because we have had such an early drying trend in the spring we are putting the entire region under this restriction,” said Kelsey Winter, Kamloops Fire Centre fire information officer. “Early in the year we encourage people to fire-smart their properties by getting rid of downed bushes and any extra fuel. But the fire danger can escalate quite quickly.”
With that in mind, people wanting to perform open burns on Crown land will have new restrictions as of Friday including:
• The burning of any waste, slash or other materials (piled or unpiled) at a size larger than one-half metre by one-half metre.
• The burning of more than two open fires of any size at the same time.
• Stubble or grass fires of any size over any area.
• The use of fireworks, sky lanterns or burning barrels of any size or description.
Campfires are yet to be banned but likely will come under scrutiny later in the summer, once more is known about just how dry the region is going to get, said Winter.
“It’s still really early in the year to have a concrete forecast for the rest of the season,” she said. “We like to see what kind of precipitation we have in June. That gives us the best indication.”
Winter said another issue that has yet to rear its head is lightning but warned there is lightning in the forecast this weekend, something that will have the fire centre on alert.
As far as the 28 human caused fires so far this year, nine of them started from abandoned campfires while the majority have been from improper open burning where the fire spreads out of control.
Last year the Kamloops Fire Centre put a ban on all campfires on July 14.