By Kristian Rasmussen
A ban on open fires will have Invermere residents holding off on family bonfires this summer. Invermere’s fire department has announced restrictions on campfire sizes and a ban all open burning without a permit within the Invermere township.
The restrictions, which came into effect on May 15th, will limit campfires to one square metre in size, and prevent burning of garbage or slash piles in residents’ yards.
“We want residents to have their fires in an enclosed pit that is made with proper blocks, not just rocks on the ground,” said Roger Ekman, Invermere Fire Chief.
“I really want to stress that people need to be courteous of their neighbours. If you light a fire in your backyard you need to be cognizant of who is around you.”
Despite imposing the ban, Mr. Ekman said that he has had no problems with unattended fires so far this spring.
“I think a lot of people are coming on board and realizing that if they are not careful with fire we are not going to have what we have here.”
Residents need to continue to use their common sense when enjoying summer campfires, he added. A hand tool and water supply must accompany any outdoor burning, the fire chief explained.
The forest fire season has been slow so far this year in B.C., said Patrick Gall, southeast region Fire Information Officer, cautioning residents to remain alert despite the slow start to the fire season. A slow start does not necessarily mean a slow finish, he added.
“You really have to make sure that you are ready to handle your fire,” Mr. Gall said. “If your fire escapes you, you then run the risk of being held liable for fire suppression costs.”
The current overall fire rating for the Kootenay region is low to very low. “It is very wet out there, but that rating is subject to change daily,” Mr. Gall said.
The information officer doesn’t want the public to let their guard down just because a ban is currently not in place, he said.
“We really want people to be safe and practice proper awareness with burning,” the fire officer said. “Even if there aren’t restrictions in place, people need to stay aware.”
For more information on fire danger ratings and safety tips on fires, visit www.bcwildfire.ca.