Grass at the day-use area of Alouette Lake is completely brown and dried up. (The News/files)

Grass at the day-use area of Alouette Lake is completely brown and dried up. (The News/files)

Pitt Meadows fire bans propane barbecues, fire pits in parks

Ban took effect Monday because of forest fire danger

Propane barbecues and fire pits are now temporarily banned from Pitt Meadows parks.

The ban took effect Monday, a decision made by the Pitt Meadows Fire Department because of the hot, dry weather conditions across the region and the risk of forest fires.

These restrictions include barbecues of any kind and is on top of all of the other regulations put in place by the province, including a prohibition on campfires throughout the Coastal Fire Centre.

Mission fire chief Mark Goddard ordered all access to Tree Farm Licence 26 closed due to the extreme fire hazard risk effective Tuesday, July 27.

The Fraser Valley Mountain Bikers Association warned their members that the closure included all trails at Red and Bear Mountains for all use including: hiking, running, biking, trail work, horse riding, and all motorized traffic.

Pitt Meadows fire chief Mike Larsson noted that they have not made the decision to shut down the trails or diking systems in Pitt Meadows.

“We know they are ever popular with our citizens, especially in COVID times,” he said.

However, he added, the department is monitoring closely everything that is happening, and he is warning the public to be very careful, especially with the use of smoking materials.

“We’ve already been to multiple fires this year in planter boxes and along dry vegetation due to smoking materials and we just want to make sure everybody is careful with those,” he said, noting that two this week were both smoking related, because people generally put out their cigarettes in the bark mulch at malls and in planters.

Maple Ridge fire chief Howard Exner said activities have already been curtailed in parklands across the city. But they don’t have control over a the forested areas in the north of the city like Mission does and so are unable to close trails in places like the UBC Research Forest and Golden Ears Provincial Park.

“We’re anxiously waiting to hear whether the province starts precluding forest use or not,” he said, adding that currently there are no restrictions on forest use in the Coastal Forest Management Area.

READ MORE: Maple Ridge fire officials enact ban of fires, fireworks

Unlike Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge has not banned the use of propane barbecues in parks because propane is easily controlled, explained Exner. However, all other live fire products are banned including the use of briquette and charcoal.

Propane fire pits are not permitted at any time in Maple Ridge parks, Exner warned.

Exner reiterated that conditions are really dangerous.

“It wouldn’t take very much for a small fire to become very, very big, particularly in the afternoon,” said Exner, adding that over the next four days of this new heat wave, the overnight humidity recovery is going to be a challenge and fire growth is going to be a major concern.

ALSO READ: Conservation cracking down on campfires still being lit in Maple Ridge parks

There are no plans yet to curb trail use in Golden Ears or Rolley Lake Provincial Parks. Operations manager Stu Burgess said he has yet to receive any direction on closing hiking trails to visitors, direction that would have to come from B.C. Parks.

However, he said, if the hot, dry weather continues it is possible there could be a closure of trails, although, he noted, it would be a rare thing to happen.

Parks staff, though, are noticing the effects of the conditions on the landscape of the park.

“We’re seeing some of the bushes and some of the plants along the roadsides starting to dry up and leaves turning brown,” noted Burgess.

“All of the grass down at the day use area is just completely dried out and turned brown,” he said.

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