Opinion: Douse that cigarette

There are enough naturally occurring fires every year in B.C.
We don’t need to add to that number through negligence and thoughtlessness.

Helicopter crews stop to refuel at Chilliwack Airport Thursday

The rain expected this weekend should come as welcome relief after so many consecutive days of hot, dry weather.

But the showers shouldn’t fool anyone into thinking the forest fire risk is any less serious.

This week the Coastal Fire Centre ordered a ban on open burning (including campfires) throughout a region that includes Chilliwack and its surrounding parks and forests.

The aim is to prevent human-caused fires from diverting resources from other parts of the province where they are desperately needed.

Currently there are more than a dozen significant fires burning in the province, and more than 1,000 people forced from their homes.

The most volatile is the Mount McAllister fire, where the blaze is so intense fire crews have had to back away from it.

Closer to home, a small fire broke out Wednesday near Harrison Hot Springs. Roughly three hectares had burned by Thursday morning, as helicopters and air tankers fought to contain it.

The campfire and open burning ban hopes to stem any accidental fires as people continue to enjoy the outdoors. It also bans fireworks, burn barrels and even “tiki torches.”

But it can only go so far.

It doesn’t stop the idiots who think a tossed cigarette will automatically extinguish itself once it leaves the car window. Or the ones who think butting out in a patio flower box, filled with bone-dry material, is a safe option.

British Columbia has all too many examples of fires started through such carelessness.

In 2003 the small town of Barriere was destroyed by fire, started by a tossed cigarette butt.

Here in Chilliwack, firefighters are routinely called out to douse bark mulch and grass fires that not only tap resources, but could pose an even greater threat if they get out of control.

There are enough naturally occurring fires every year in B.C.

We don’t need to add to that number through negligence and thoughtlessness.