Burning up A forestry service helicopter dumps a load of water on a wildfire in Summerland on the afternoon of July 2. The extremely dry conditions have prompted a province-wide campfire ban

Burning up A forestry service helicopter dumps a load of water on a wildfire in Summerland on the afternoon of July 2. The extremely dry conditions have prompted a province-wide campfire ban

Hot and dry July ahead

Calls to be careful with fire are coming from all levels, all the way from the provincial government to individual residents.

Calls to be careful with fire are coming from all levels, all the way from the provincial government to the RCMP, local fire departments and even individual residents.

Summerland got a small taste of what other areas of the province are experiencing when a wildfire broke out on the afternoon of July 2 on Canyon View Road near Belvedere Place. Fire crews, both from the Ministry of Forests and the district fire department responded, and had the fire under control and mostly extinguished over the course of a few hours.

The fire eventually covered 1.3 hectares, and took 13 Summerland firefighters, along with three vehicles on scene, including the bush truck, plus a forestry crew and two water-bombing helicopters to extinguish the blaze.

The fire was burning vigorously up the hillside when crews arrived, but assistant fire chief Rob Robinson said that winds were light at the time, and weren’t a factor in the spread of the blaze.

Three nearby homes were threatened by the blaze, according to Robinson, who said the flames were 25 feet away from structures at their closest, but crews were able to work quickly and prevent the fire from reaching the structures.

An absence of any likely natural causes, like lightning, means it is likely the blaze was caused by humans. Summerland RCMP consider the blaze suspicious and are investigating. Any information regarding any suspicious persons or vehicles in the area of this fire can be directed to the Summerland RCMP at 250-494-7416.

A complete campfire ban went into effect on July 3 for the District of Summerland and surrounding areas. Until further notice, all open burning, including campfires and fireworks, will be prohibited throughout the Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen in conjunction with the municipalities of Penticton, Oliver, Osoyoos, Princeton, Village of Keremeos and the Hedley Improvement District.

This step is being taken to help prevent human-caused wildfires, which in addition to their potential for destruction, draw resources away from wildfires started by natural causes. A map of the area covered by this open burning prohibition and campfire ban is available online at: http://bit.ly/1sfqVr9.

This ban does not restrict fires in cooking stoves using gas, propane or briquettes, or to a portable campfire apparatus with a CSA or ULC rating (providing the flame height does not exceed 15 centimetres) but does restrict fires in portable wood burning fireplaces and campfires.

The Kamloops Fire Centre burning prohibition, which covers all B.C. parks and Crown lands, applies to open fires of any size, industrial burning, fireworks, tiki torches, sky lanterns and burning barrels.

Anyone found in contravention of an open burning prohibition may be issued a ticket for $345, required to pay an administrative penalty of $10,000 or, if convicted in court, fined up to $100,000 and/or sentenced to one year in jail. If the contravention causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person responsible may be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.

To report a wildfire or an open burning violation, call 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on a cellphone.

For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, go to www.bcwildfire.ca.

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