A fire leveled several homes under construction in Silver Valley in 2012. (THE NEWS/files)

A fire leveled several homes under construction in Silver Valley in 2012. (THE NEWS/files)

Maple Ridge campfire ban in effect as of Tuesday noon

Hot spell has forest fire danger rating at high, says fire chief

It’s getting too hot for comfort so Maple Ridge Fire and Rescue is ratcheting up its precautions and putting a city-wide campfire ban in place as of noon Tuesday.

Most residents in the urban areas already are banned from having campfires, but some parts of rural Maple Ridge allow people to have campfires in their back yards or at campsites.

But as of Tuesday noon, no campfires are allowed in any part of Maple Ridge.

“If people were vigilant about their use of fire, there wouldn’t be a problem,” said Fire Chief Howard Exner.

“There are people who are not vigilant with fire and we’ve got a lot of demonstrated cases of that right now.”

Fire crews had to put out three small fires on the weekend.

Firefighters rushed to put out a campfire on the B.C. Hydro powerline right of way on Sunday morning near 256th Street.

“It was probably actually burning when they left it,” Exner said of whoever started it.

Another campfire was left burning in Horseman Park, while a small fire started in tall grass near Jackson Park on Saturday afternoon.

“The only thing that was the saving grace there was that there was no wind, or else it would have been a fairly big fire,” Exner said of the latter.

Most fires are human caused, “unless it’s lightning or lava, but I can confidently rule both of those out.”

Exner said most of the forest areas in Maple Ridge, Silver Valley, Rock Ridge or Thornhill are at risk because they face south and attract the heat of the sun.

“Any of the elevated, south-facing slopes are a concern to us wherever they are in the city. Anything that’s south facing that takes the heat all day long, is a concern.”

Currently, the forest fire danger rating is at high, although it will likely go to extreme.

However, the weather is expected to cool at the end of this week, although the campfire ban likely will remain in effect for the summer unless there’s a significant change in the weather and the forest fire hazard danger rating.

People think that a campfire that’s dying down poses no danger, but all it takes is a bit of wind to re-ignite that fire or cause it to spread.

The temperature at Fire Hall No. 1 in Maple Ridge reached 34 C on the weekend.

For now, ATVs and motorcycles can still access local forests, but in some parts of the Interior off-road vehicle access is banned because of the hazard posed by hot exhaust pipes igniting grass fires.