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Use caution, be fire safe this long weekend

August 31, 2023 at 2:31 pm  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

Residents and travellers are strongly urged to use caution and remain vigilant this Labour Day long weekend as ongoing elevated drought conditions in much of British Columbia increase the potential for wildfires.

Though most wildfires during the summer months are caused by lightning, the majority of wildfires that occur during shoulder seasons after peak travel times, are caused by humans. Open burning, including campfires, is prohibited throughout most of B.C. Everyone is asked to do their part preventing human-caused fire starts by following all fire bans.

A state of emergency has been declared in B.C. Before travelling anywhere within the province, check for road closures, evacuation alerts, evacuation orders and other prohibitions, such as BC Parks closures. Follow all instructions from local governments or First Nations, including evacuation alerts or evacuation orders. 

If you are planning to travel in B.C., do so safely and avoid fire-affected communities. Most communities look forward to welcoming visitors back, but some are advising that now is still not a good time to visit. Please follow their guidance.

For people travelling outside of fire-affected communities, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure cautions drivers can expect delays on Coquihalla Highway 5 with 70 km/hour construction speed zones in place at the Bottletop, Juliet and Jessica bridges. Travellers should be prepared for changes in speed limits and drive with caution.  

Lengthy delays should also be expected on Highway 1 between Boston Bar and Lytton, with single-lane-alternating traffic through the Falls Creek (Jackass Mountain) highway reconstruction project, and possible lane closures for fire-related repairs and maintenance. The Kookipi Creek wildfire remains active in the Fraser Canyon, with BC Wildfire Service operating in the area. Drivers are advised that sections of Highway 1 could be closed at any time if conditions warrant. This includes the possibility of proactive closures during rainfall to ensure the safety of travellers as the fire-damaged hillside may shed runoff and debris. Further, Highway 97 north of Summerland will be closed for the long weekend due to a rockslide. Drivers are advised to check DriveBC for current conditions.

Since April 1, 2023, more than 2,007 wildfires have burned more than 1.84 million hectares. To report a wildfire, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone or download the BC Wildfire Service app. The mobile app allows individuals to submit photos along with their report, which helps inform BC Wildfire Service operational decision-making.

For more information about fire prohibitions, visit the BC Wildfire Service website: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/wildfire-status/fire-bans-and-restrictions.

Stay informed as conditions change at https://bcwildfire.ca or through the BC Wildfire Service app. For the most up-to-date highway travel information, check @DriveBC on Twitter or visit: https://www.drivebc.ca/

Additional precautions:

Learn More:

BC Wildfire Service information and updates: http://www.bcwildfire.ca/

To stay informed about the latest road conditions, visit: http://www.drivebc.ca

Emergency information: http://www.emergencyinfobc.ca and http://www.twitter.com/EmergencyInfoBC

For the latest videos from wildfire incidents, visit: https://www.youtube.com/@BCWildfireService

Fire bans and restrictions: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/wildfire-status/fire-bans-and-restrictions

For information about tourism in B.C., visit: https://www.hellobc.com/

For important travel advisories and updates, visit: https://www.hellobc.com/know-before-you-go/

To check current weather alerts, visit: http://weather.gc.ca

Air quality advisories: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/air-land-water/air/air-quality/air-advisories

For preparedness guides from PreparedBC, including floods, wildfires and extreme heat, visit: http://www.preparedbc.ca

For tips about how to prepare grab-and-go bags, visit: http://www.preparedbc.ca/emergencykit

To register for Emergency Support Services, visit: https://ess.gov.bc.ca/

BCCDC information about preparing for heat events: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/prevention-public-health/preparing-for-heat-events

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