High temperatures scorching B.C. have elevated the wildfire risk from low to high in Maple Ridge, putting the fire department on alert for any activities that could set tinder-dry brush ablaze.
The district expects the rating to hit extreme next week, which will activate a ban on all open fires in Maple Ridge and the surrounding provincial parks.
“When the rating is high, we are a lot more careful,” said fire chief Peter Grootendorst.
Uncontrolled wildfires often cause the most damage to property in the urban interface, areas where homes and buildings are close to thickly wooded areas and forests.
In Maple Ridge, 60 per cent of residential development is within the forest interface.
“Not many other communities have that much exposure to the forest,” said Grootendorst.
The fire department is in contact with the Coastal Fire Centre, one of six regional wildland fire centres operated by the B.C. Forest Service.
Grootendorst said the forest service planes will be watching for smoke and will assist the local fire department if a fire starts close to a forest. Smokers should also be careful to not toss cigarettes into dry brush.
The last time a forest fire ignited close to homes was in 2006 in the Rockridge Estates off 236th and McCauley Crescent.
“We are hoping not to have another one. But the potential is there,” said Grootendorst.
The area around Pitt Lake also has a high wildfire rating.
In Pitt Meadows, there’s a strictly enforced burning season. Burning is only allowed in agricultural areas in spring and fall and no open fires are allowed at anytime in its urban or residential areas.
“If people are thinking of lighting a fire, it can get away from them pretty quick” warned assistant chief Brad Perrie.
On Wednesday, B.C. Forest Service crews were called in to battle a four-hectare fire in Squamish was caused by a lightning storm last week.