B.C. residents urged to stay safe and aware of wildfire risks over long weekend

The province is reminding the public to take precautions and be fire and emergency safe

British Columbians spending the Victoria Day long weekend in the beautiful, great outdoors are being urged to stay aware of wildfire risks.

The province is reminding the public to take precautions and be fire and emergency safe.

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Much of the province has experienced above-average temperatures in recent weeks, which means that forest fuels are drying out and fire danger ratings have increased in many areas.

The B.C. Wildfire Service has already responded to 176 fires since April 1 this year.

There are currently open fire burning restrictions in place for the Northwest, Prince George and Cariboo. No campfire bans are currently in place for B.C. 

Residents are asked to properly extinguish campfires, be careful with cigarettes and report any signs of a wildfire.

Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness, said wildfires are often unpredictable and encouraged people in regional areas to start preparing themselves.  

“I encourage people living in rural areas to take the time to prepare their grab-and-go bags and emergency kits well in advance,” Rice said.

“We’ve expanded our partners in preparedness program, so people can buy kits from more retailers, and have also launched a new PreparedBC Facebook page.”

Last summer, B.C. was blanketed with smoke as firefighters battled 560 fires across the province that burnt through 500,000 hectares of forest.

As part of Budget 2019, the B.C. government increased wildfire prevention, response and recovery investments by 58 per cent to $101 million per year to keep residents safe.

“The Province has taken significant steps to make sure that we’re ready for the 2019 fire season, including new investments in fire prevention and fire response, but we all have a part to play to protect our communities and province,” said Premier John Horgan.

Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, said the B.C. government would put a strong emphasis on fire prevention in the months ahead.

“We all need to do our part to reduce wildfire risk and keep communities safe,” he said. 

“I encourage those people staying home over the long weekend to take steps to FireSmart their property.”

To report a wildfire, unattended campfire or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.

For up-to-date information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, call 1 888 3-FOREST or visit BC Wildfire Service.

Follow the latest wildfire news: on Twitter and on Facebook.

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