The BC Wildfire Service is already warning people in the Okanagan outdoors to follow safety protocols if having a campfire due to the current dry conditions in the woods. (Contributed)

Okanagan region wildfire season already heating up

BC Wildfire Service offers safety reminders for people outdoors

It’s only mid-March but fire season has already been ignited across the Kamloops Fire Zone.

BC Wildfire Service Gagan Lidhran said multiples wildfires were sparked across the fire zone, which includes the Okanagan Valley, in the last week, all of them likely of human-caused origins.

BC Wildfire crews responded to forest fires near Kamloops, Merritt and Penticton serve as a reminder of the current dry conditions, Lidhran said.

“The fires we experienced last week were all driven by winds in the areas combined with a lack of rain,” Lidhran said.

“Until we get some precipitation and things start to green up from the moisture, it is dry and volatile right now. It’s a reminder for people to be careful when doing activities outdoors right now.”

Lidhran said the new fiscal budget fire season starts in April for 2021-22, so the cost to fight fires in March still falls under the previous year’s budget.

She said wildfire crews are in place to respond to fires such as what occurred last week, and those crews will be enhanced further as the traditional fire season kicks into gear this spring.

“We continue to maintain a level of anticipated preparedness and we watch the weather forecasts to see what to expect,” Lidhran said.

“We have learned it is better to be proactive rather than reactive.”

Campfire safety measures include:

• Remove all leaves, twigs and other flammable material from the area around where you plan to light your campfire

• Never have a campfire when it’s windy

• Don’t leave a campfire unattended at any time

• Keep a bucket of at least eight litres of water close by the fire at all times, and/or a hand tool to extinguish the fire properly

• To extinguish your campfire, pour plenty of water on the fire and surrounding area, dousing the site of the campfire thoroughly. Stir the campfire until there are no embers and the ashes are cold to the touch

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