Firefighting crews continue efforts on wildfires in northeast B.C.

Recent warm, dry conditions have led to increased fire activity in the Prince George Fire Centre.

PRINCE GEORGE – Recent warm, dry conditions have led to increased fire activity in the Prince George Fire Centre. Scattered showers are forecasted for this weekend which should aid fire suppression efforts.

There are currently seven wildfires of note, which are all located in the Peace Region. The Beatton Airport Road wildfire, which is located 45 kilometres north of Fort St. John, is estimated at 12,000 hectares in size. The Siphon Creek wildfire, located 40 kilometres northeast of Fort St. John, is estimated at 24,000 hectares and has crossed the Alberta border.

The BC Wildfire Service is currently responding to 55 wildfires throughout the Prince George Fire Centre; 49 of those wildfires are in the Peace Region. Compared to the 10 year average, the Prince George Fire Centre has had nearly three times the amount of fires normally seen at this time of year with over seven times the amount of hectares burned.

These incidents have been caused by people with the majority due to open burning. Ten fires have also been handed over to the Conservation Officer Service for arson investigations.

The public is urged to follow open burning prohibitions to help prevent human-caused fires.

Category 2 open fires are prohibited throughout the entire Prince George Fire Centre. Category 3 open fires are also prohibited in the Fort St. John, Fort Nelson and Dawson Creek natural resource districts.

On May 7, two incidents of unauthorized use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs, or drones near active wildfires were reported).

Going into fire season, the public is reminded that Transport Canada and the BC Wildfire Service explicitly prohibit the use of drones of any size near a wildfire. Many drones also require a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) for commercial use. For more information, check here: http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/civilaviation/standards/general-recavi-uav-2265.htm?WT.mc_id=1zfhj#safety

Violating these rules can put the lives of aircrews and those on the ground in jeopardy. For safety reasons, if a drone is detected in the controlled airspace over a wildfire, the BC Wildfire Service will ground our nearby aircraft until the drone has left the area.

If necessary, the BC Wildfire Service will work with police to locate drone operators violating these rules and suspend their operations.

The Prince George Fire Centre has been able to keep the majority of recent fire starts small and in the initial attack stages. This has largely been due to prompt reports from the public. The BC Wildfire Service thanks the public for their continued help reporting wildfires and illegal open burning by calling 1 800 663-5555 or *5555 on a cell phone. For up-to-date information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, call 1 888 3-FOREST (1 888-336-7378) or visit: www.bcwildfire.ca You can follow the latest wildfire news on: Twitter at: http://twitter.com/BCGovFireInfo; Facebook at: http://facebook.com/BCForestFireInfo