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Burn bans coming into effect for northeastern B.C. as wildfire season nears

All open burning, except for campfires, to be banned in Prince George Fire Centre starting March 28
Any open burn larger than a half-metre high by a half-metre wide will be banned in the Prince George Fire Centre beginning on March 28, 2024. The prohibition is set to remain in effect until Oct. 15, 2024. (Pixabay)

All open burns larger than a campfire will soon be banned in northeastern B.C., as the province gears up for an early and challenging wildfire season.

Category 2 and 3 fires are set to be prohibited in the Prince George Fire Centre from March 28 until Oct. 15. This includes any blaze that burns beyond a half-metre high by a half-metre wide. It also covers fireworks, sky lanterns, burn barrels of any size and binary exploding targets.

BC Wildfire Service made the announcement on Wednesday (March 20), saying that introducing the ban early is necessary this year to “help prevent human-caused wildfires and protect public safety” amid a high risk of grass fires and ongoing drought conditions.

A BC Wildfire Service graphic shows the regions of the Prince George Fire Centre, where Category 2 and 3 open burning will be banned beginning on March 28, 2024. (BC Wildfire Service)

Last year, Category 2 and 3 fires weren’t banned throughout the entire Prince George Fire Centre until May 10. Similar prohibitions came into effect for other parts of the province soon after. That wildfire season turned out to be the most severe on record for both B.C. and Canada, the impacts of which are still being felt.

In B.C., about 90 hold-over or “zombie” fires are still actively burning from the 2023 season. And the drought conditions that exacerbated things last summer continue to be a problem. To top things off, B.C.’s snowpack level is at just 66 per cent of normal as of March 1.

Speaking Monday, Emergency Management Minister Bowinn Ma said the province is preparing earlier than ever this year to tackle drought and wildfires. She said it is possible the province will receive enough precipitation in the coming months to mitigate things, but that officials are expecting that this wildfire season may be “very challenging.”

Beyond early bans on open burning, Ma said Monday that they may have to introduce temporary water restrictions at times as well.

There are 96 active wildfires burning in B.C. as of Wednesday afternoon. Only one is considered out of control, a 0.6-hectare blaze located 50 kilometres southwest of Burns Lake. The majority of fires are attributed to lightning, but 13 are believed to have been started by people.

The Prince George Fire Centre is set to come into effect at noon on March 28.

READ ALSO: B.C. residents asked to prepare for a “challenging” wildfire season

About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media after starting as a community reporter in Greater Victoria.
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