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Fire ban in place, but people still starting campfires

Maple Ridge fire department taking names, ticketing
B.C. Wildfire Service says forest fire danger rating is high. Maple Ridge fire department has issued five tickets during current burning ban.

There’s a burning ban in place in Maple Ridge but apparently that’s news to some people.

Fire chief Howard Exner said firefighters have had to put out four blazes alongside nearby trails last week.

Maple Ridge Fire Rescue Services announced a total fire ban, prohibiting burning of any kind, anywhere in Maple Ridge on July 7.

During the first week of the ban the fire department received 18 complaints about burning. But four of those were in the forested areas along trails, one in the Silver Valley area with other areas near 248th Street as well as by the Fraser River, the result of people starting campfires.

Five tickets were issued for illegal burning while the remainder were issued warning tickets.

“The message is out of all of this is that people need to be careful with ignition sources. Don’t have campfires. We’ve banned them. Make sure your cigarettes are well extinguished and disposed of properly,” Exner said.

“Don’t start fires even in your backyard. This is not the time of year to do that … and don’t start fires out on the trails, either.”

BC Wildfire Service currently has a high fire danger rating for the West Coast.

Under Maple Ridge fire department’s ban:

• All camping and recreational fires regularly enjoyed in the open to burning area of Maple Ridge are now prohibited. The use of hibachis or other briquette BBQs and ULC/CSA listed propane BBQs and fire pits are permitted at this time.

• The discharge of all fireworks, sky lanterns or pyrotechnics is also prohibited during this campfire ban.

Should the hot and dry weather conditions continue, further restrictions may have to be instituted.

The fire department takes this threat very seriously and therefore will be ticketing those who choose to have prohibited fires, with fines ranging between $500 and $1,000.