BC Wildfire Service air tankers and pilots are now stationed at the Penticton Airport, ready at a moment’s notice to fight wildfires. (Western News file photo)

BC Wildfire Service air tankers and pilots are now stationed at the Penticton Airport, ready at a moment’s notice to fight wildfires. (Western News file photo)

B.C. government wants public to be ‘FireSmart’ this long weekend

British Columbians are encouraged to be careful with campfires, cigarette butts and more

As summer approaches and the weather continues to get warmer, the B.C. government is encouraging the public to do their part in preventing wildfires for this long weekend and beyond.

From April 1 to May 19, 214 wildfires have already burned about 2,147 hectares of land across the province, according to the BC Wildfire Service. Of those fires, 168 of them were human-caused — about 79 per cent.

Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, encourages British Columbians to use caution with any activity that could start a wildfire.

“Human-caused fires are completely preventable and can unnecessarily divert firefighting resources from naturally occurring wildfires,” said Conroy.

Jennifer Rice, parliamentary secretary for emergency preparedness, encourages homeowners to be “FireSmart” and check out www.firesmartbc.ca for quick and easy ways to mitigate wildfire risk, such as by cutting back overgrown vegetation.

The province also encourages the public to be careful with campfires, reminding them not to let fires grow larger than 0.5 metres high or wide, not to light a campfire in windy conditions and never leave a campfire unattended.

Additionally, the release states that anyone riding an all-terrain vehicle on or within 300 metres of forested land or rangeland must have a spark arrestor installed on their vehicle. It also states that smokers must dispose of cigarette butts and other materials responsibly and make sure they are completely extinguished.

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