Pitt Meadows fire crews maintain fire breaks near 100 Mile House in July.                                Pitt Meadows fire crews maintain fire breaks near 100 Mile House in July.

Pitt Meadows fire crews maintain fire breaks near 100 Mile House in July. Pitt Meadows fire crews maintain fire breaks near 100 Mile House in July.

Maple Ridge parks now at extreme fire danger rating

Another eight tickets issued in Maple Ridge; multiple tickets for fires in Pitt Meadows.

newsroom@mapleridgenews.com

Maple Ridge firefighters are ramping up their enforcement efforts after the forest fire danger rating in city parks moved from high to extreme on Friday.

Under the Forest Practices Act, logging activity within city boundaries will be closely monitored, flail mowing or wood chipping is no longer allowed.

City workers are now posting up more ‘no smoking’ signs in city parks and trails, said fire chief Howard Exner.

The only cooking devices that can used in city parks are propane barbecues or stoves. Hibichis are not allowed and neither is white gas that’s used in Coleman stoves.

Maple Ridge implemented a fire ban on July 7, prohibiting burning of any kind, including campfires, anywhere within the rural parts of the city. Camp fires in the urban areas are always prohibited.

“We still have great concern over what’s going to happen this week. The temperature certainly isn’t going to go down.”

Firefighters remain on edge at least for the rest of this week, as temperatures with daily highs of 25 C are forecast. There’s a chance of showers on Sunday, however.

“Our biggest concern is having a significant fire event in the urban interface. The reason being is the forest firefighters are very busy in the Interior,” Exner said.

However, Maple Ridge does have a Wildfire Protection Plan in place and the department does have vehicles and equipment which it could employ to fight a fire within its boundaries and in areas such as Maple Ridge Park, Albion Park Allco Park.

The fire department also gives FireSmart tips to residents who want to increase their homes’ resistance to fires. But the fire department can’t go on to private property to clear hazardous brush or trees, he pointed out.

Firefighters raced around last week putting out five small grass fires. “They were all human caused,” some by tossed cigarettes, Exner added.

Exner said there isn’t much more the city can do from an administrative point of view.

The fire department also ticketed eight more people with $500 fines for having campfires on their properties last week. They were also called to five campfires on public land, although the perpetrators had vanished by the time crews arrived

“Unfortunately, they just are not getting the mesage despite what they see on TV and social media and every other type of media.”

There’s also a complete fire ban in place across B.C., except Haida Gwaii. BC Parks has also Conservation officers are patrolling provincial parks and issuing fines of about $1,100 to violators, meaning anyone near a campfire will be issued a ticket.

Pitt Meadows fire chief Don Jolley said multiple tickets have been issued to people concerning four or five fires in that city.

About 10 small fires in recent days have also started in the bark mulch areas in Meadowntown Centre when people toss away their cigarette butts.

Metro Vancouver also moved to a fire danger rating of extreme on Friday.