Campfires allowed again in rural areas of Maple Ridge, classified as “open-to-burn areas.” (Contributed)

Campfires allowed again in rural areas of Maple Ridge, classified as “open-to-burn areas.” (Contributed)

Campfires allowed again in rural Maple Ridge

Rain allows fire department to cancel ban

Cool weather and rain has allowed the Maple Ridge Fire Department to cancel its burning ban at noon on Tuesday, Sept. 19.

The ban was implemented on July 7, after this summer’s heat wave turned local forests tinder dry and led to a forest fire danger rating of extreme. The ban prohibited people from having campfires in Maple Ridge’s open-to-burn areas, mainly the rural areas.

Fire chief Howard Exner said the forest fire danger rating now sits at moderate after more than 10 millimetres of rain fell in the last few days. According to the guage at the fire department, 3.2 mm fell on the weekend, 1.2 mm on Monday and 7.2 mm just on Tuesday morning alone.

During the summer, the department issued as many as 75 tickets to those who ignored the fire ban, possibly risking a raging wildfire in dense coastal forests near homes and businesses.

But with the ban now lifted, Exner said it doesn’t mean there’s a free for all. Campfires only are allowed in the open-to-burn areas.

Exner expects conditions not to change much for the rest of the year. “I think it would be hard for us to climb back up to extreme again.”

Exner said that people can go on to the city’s online mapping system to see if their property remains in the open-to-burning area or is now part of a built-up area where all fires are prohibited year round.

Pitt Meadows doesn’t allow campfires in any part of the city.