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Forest ministry bans open fires and fireworks

All fireworks and open fires will be banned on the B.C. Coast for the remainder of the summer.

The ban by the B.C. forest ministry, implemented as of noon Friday (July 20), covers all of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, as well as the area west of the Coast Mountain Range from the Canada-U.S. border at Manning Park, including South Tweedsmuir Park in the north, the Sunshine Coast, the Lower Mainland.

Haida Gwaii is, so far, the only area exempt from the ban, which will remain in place until Sept. 15 or until the public is notified otherwise.

The ban is intended to help prevent human-caused wildfires and specifically prohibits burning of any waste, slash or other material in fires smaller than two metres high by three metres wide. The burning of stubble or grass and the use of fireworks or burning barrels of any size or description is also banned.

The ban does not prohibit campfires that are smaller than a half-metre tall by a half-metre wide and does not apply to cooking stoves that use gas, propane or charcoal briquettes.

Anyone lighting a campfire must create a fireguard by removing flammable debris from the campfire area and have a hand tool or at least eight litres of water handy to properly extinguish the fire.

The ban covers all B.C. Parks, Crown and private lands, but does not apply within boundaries of municipalities that have fire departments and forest fire prevention bylaws.

Category 3 open burning for resource management reasons, is still allowed, but anyone conducting this type of open burning is limited to one burn at a time and must obtain a burn registration number by calling 1-888-797-1717.

Breaking an open fire ban can result in penalties ranging from a fine of $345 up to $100,000 and a sentence of one year in prison.

Anyone whose actions start or contribute to a wildfire can also be ordered to pay a $10,000 penalty plus all firefighting and associated costs.

To report a wildfire or unattended campfire, call 1 800 663-5555 or *5555 on a cellphone.

For more information about open burning regulations and fire prohibitions, to view an online map of the fire ban area, current wildfire activity, air quality advisories and road closures, please visit the B.C. Wildfire Management Branch website at http://bcwildfire.ca.

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