The Interior continues to struggle with wildfires.

The Interior continues to struggle with wildfires.

Hot town, summer in the city

Fire rating could jump to extreme, says Maple Ridge fire chief

You may enjoy the hot weather but be smart about it. Because everyone is at risk from heat-related illness, Environment Canada said Monday.

The agency issued a special weather statement for this week for the Fraser Valley warning of record temperatures, with daytime highs expected to reach 30 C in Pitt Meadows and 36 C in Abbotsford on Thursday.

That could affect young children, pregnant women, the elderly, the homeless, those without air conditioning – or anyone who works outside.

“Drink plenty of water even before you feel thirsty and stay in a cool place,” says Environment Canada.

And never leave people or pets inside a parked vehicle. People can get information on health-related questions by calling, HealthLinkBC at 811.

According to the B.C. Wildfire Service on Monday, the Fire Danger Rating remains at high, just below extreme, in the Lower Mainland of B.C.

But depending on word from the fire weather forecast this afternoon, that rating soon could be changed to extreme, said Maple Ridge Fire and Rescue chief Howard Exner.

If that happens, the department will ratchet up its restrictions. “If it goes to extreme, then what we’ll do is start curtailing more risks in the general public areas.” That could include a complete ban on any propane stoves or barbecues, which currently are allowed under the current city-wide fire ban that prohibits any fires, anywhere in the city.

The city could also step up enforcement and patrols to ensure people follow the rules, such as not smoking in city parks.

Maple Ridge just passed its third week of its fire ban and has issued a total of 19 tickets for illegal fires. Four people were ticketed the first week, after the fire ban was imposed July 7 and seven people were ticketed the second week, with another eight given tickets for at least $500 in the third week for having campfires on their properties. Campfires or fires of any kind are completely banned throughout the city and the province, except Haida Gwai.

“Right now, burning outside is just not a good idea,” Exner said.

He added that if a major fire starts in the dense West Coast forests, it will take a while for crews and equipment, currently busy in the Interior, to get to Metro Vancouver area.

Maple Ridge’s website says people can put up window reflectors, or coverings, or install air conditioners in their homes. It also suggests people avoid going outside between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. and to use sunscreen or visit air-conditioned buildings and to drink plenty of water and avoid strenuous exercise in the heat.

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