Open burning ban won’t be lifted

  • Aug. 10, 2009 6:00 a.m.

The fire hazard rating on Haida Gwaii fell to low Monday afternoon (Aug. 10) after 24 mm of rain fell in 48 hours, but the forest service warned that wildfires remain a major concern and that the open burning ban will not be lifted for now. Louis Bourcet, compliance and enforcement supervisor at the Haida Gwaii Forest District, warned that Forests Minister Pat Bell has put in place a zero tolerance policy for any violation of the fire ban, and there are no exceptions for the islands. “Our direction is to do enforcement and we’ll be out looking,” he said. “Provincially, this is a major concern.” Local staff will have to issue tickets if they find any fires larger than campfires, he said. In fact, they are already investigating one report of open burning. Campfires are now allowed, but Mr. Bourcet warned that the definition of a campfire is a very small fire used for cooking, heat or light – not a big bonfire. While it may be wet right now, the long term trend is for more dry weather before the end of August, he said. It will only take eight days of sunshine to put Haida Gwaii back in the high hazard rating, he said. Mr. Bourcet said so far almost everyone is respecting the fire ban and the forest service appreciates the cooperation. The fine for flouting the open burning ban is $345, and the fine for discarding a cigarette is $173. Meanwhile, BC parks lifted the campfire ban at Agate Beach and Misty Meadows campgrounds on Monday, but fires remain prohibited throughout the rest of Naikoon Provincial Park. The only fires allowed are small ones within the designated fire rings in the two campgrounds, said Lucy Stefanyk, Haida Gwaii area supervisor for BC Parks. Beach fires and any other fires remain banned. Ms Stefanyk said the situation will be reassessed on Thursday in consultation with provincial fire officials.

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