Record breaking heat in the Bulkley Valley

It is warm outside, really warm. This means there is a greater risk for fires to get out of control.

It may be the last day of March, but the sun beating down on leafless trees has served up record breaking temperatures the last two days in the Bulkley Valley that have made it feel more like June.

The record for March 31 before today in Smithers was set in 2013 at 14.2 degrees Celsius. The average maximum temperature is 7.9 C.

Yesterday hit a high of 19.5 C. By 5 p.m. today, it was 20.4 C.

With such high and dry conditions, the Northwest Fire Centre is encouraging the public to exercise caution with any outdoor burning activities this spring, due to an increased wildfire risk.

Anyone wishing to conduct an open burn should take the following precautions:

  • Ensure that enough people, water and tools are on hand to control the fire and prevent it from escaping.
  • Do not burn during windy conditions. Weather conditions can change quickly and the wind may carry embers to other combustible material and start new fires.
  • Create a fireguard at least one metre around the planned fire site by clearing away twigs, grass, leaves and other combustible material.
  • If planning a large burn, consider conducting smaller burns around the perimeter beforehand to create a fuel break and help stop the fire from spreading beyond its intended size. Each of these fires should be kept small and must be completely extinguished before starting a new fire.
  • Never leave a fire unattended.
  • Make sure that your fire is completely extinguished and the ashes are cold to the touch before you leave the area for any length of time.
  • Pay attention to changing weather conditions and follow all burning regulations to help reduce the number of preventable wildfires.

Before conducting any burn, individuals should check with their local fire department, municipality or regional district to check if there are any open burning restrictions or bylaws in effect.

In British Columbia, the Wildfire Act specifies a person’s legal obligations when using fire in or within one kilometre of forested land or grassland. If an outdoor burn escapes and causes a wildfire, the person responsible may be held accountable for damages and fire suppression costs.