As the wildfire danger ramps up in BC, the province in its ‘half-hearted’ wisdom has prohibited all open burning (Category 2 and 3 fires). Makes sense considering the volatility of the situation. 

But what doesn’t make sense is the fact campfires are still permitted. Why would you ban burn piles and burning barrels and not campfires? 

Unattended campfires or poorly extinguished ones have led to many devastating wildfires in the past. According to the BC government, nearly 60 per cent of the 670 wildfires in 2020 were human caused, while 41 per cent (275) were caused by lightning. However, in more recent statistics, the government reports last year’s fire season was characterized by above average lightning-caused fires as opposed to human-caused fires. As of October 2022 there were 1,758 wildfires that burned more than 133,437 hectares, with 68 per cent of these fires caused by lightning.

The point is we can’t afford to take any chances as climate change pushes us to the edge of a stark reality – our planet is burning up and, ironically, flooding at the same time. 

If you’re going to ban fireworks, sky lanterns and burning piles because of the high danger rating, campfires should be included in that edict. A spark from a campfire can travel some distance and ignite a wildfire, resulting in evacuations and millions of dollars in property damage. Why take the risk?

We acknowledge that campfires are fun, particularly during a family gathering to roast marshmallows, but they are not necessary. Wait until the fall when the fire hazard is lower. Too often people abandon their fires or don’t do a thorough job in extinguishing them prior to pulling up camp. While there are many responsible campers out there, a number of irresponsible ones don’t care as long as their house doesn’t burn to cinders. 

An abandoned campfire was reportably to blame for a wildfire near Stave Lake in the Fraser Valley last year. Unfortunately it is difficult to prove and hold people accountable for these fires, but you can be assured that the taxpayer will foot the bill.

For people who must have a campfire, we implore them to use extra caution by ensuring the fire is no larger than 0.5 metres high by 0.5 metres wide. Make sure it is in a well-contained pit and there are no flammables nearby. Have a water source on hand to extinguish the fire if it gets out of control. And be certain the fire is totally out and cold to the touch before leaving it. All it takes is one careless moment to ruin the lives of many.

Lyonel Doherty, Editor