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Southeast Fire Centre bans open burning in Kootenays

Large-scale open burns are set to be banned across the Southeast Fire Centre effective Friday, June 8, according to the provincial government.

The BC Wildfire Service announced the prohibition ban on Category 3 fires on Monday, which include the burning of any material large than two metres high or three metres wide, stubble or grass fires larger than 2,000 metres square or the burning of more than two piles of any size.

The ban applies to public and private land unless otherwise specified in local government bylaws.

The prohibition does not apply to smaller Cateogry 2 open burns or campfires, however, officials urge the public to take precautions that include:

• ensuring enough people and water are on hand to prevent fires from escaping

• avoiding burns in windy conditions

• creating a fire guard at least one metre around the planned fire site by clearing away brush and fire fuels.

• making sure a fire is completely extinguished before leaving the site, and never leave a fire unattended.

Fines for violating an open burn ban can reach up to $1,150 while administrative penalties or a court conviction can be anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000.

Southeast Fire Centre jurisdiction extends from the Okanagan and Monashee mountains in the west to the B.C./Alberta border to the east, while the north/south area extends from the Mica Dam to the Canada/U.S. border.

Report a wildfire, unattended campfire or open burning violation by calling 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.