Campbell River is allowing campfires within the city limits despite a fire ban imposed by the province last week.
The Coastal Fire Centre banned all campfires and open burning on Crown lands and at provincial campsites and parks as of last Thursday.
But Fire Chief Ian Baikie said last weekend’s rainfall, cooling temperatures, and rainy weather forecast make a fire ban in Campbell River unnecessary.
“The provincial ban just didn’t follow the science. We just didn’t have the dryness that usually accompanies a campfire ban,” Baikie said Monday. “Our experience is we don’t have any problems in our community with fires starting or growing right now.”
There have been a few minor bark mulch fires, but those have been quickly put out before they’ve been able to spread.
Baikie said the humidity at the airport was 72 per cent on Monday and humidity levels don’t typically become dangerous until they hit around 30 per cent.
With three millimetres of rain between last Friday and Saturday, the region’s fire rating has also decreased from high to moderate.
Baikie said, in speaking with the province, it was apparent that the province’s fire ban had more to do with conditions in other areas of B.C. than on Vancouver Island.
He was told that fire officials are so busy battling fires in the Interior that it’s left little resources on the Island. The city, on the other hand, has its own municipal firefighters available should a fire break out.
Baikie can’t recall the last time the city has allowed campfires during a provincial ban, but this year is an anomaly.
“We really hesitate to be different from the province, but in this case it’s the right thing to do,” Baikie said. “I know people here enjoy their beach fires so I hesitate to impose a fire ban unless absolutely necessary.”
Baikie will be monitoring the weather day-by-day and things could change if there is a dry spell of five or more consecutive days.
In the meantime, fires are allowed within the city limits as long as they are no more than 24 inches round (60 centimetre) and built away from combustibles and within an outdoor fireplace, barbecue, fire pit, fully enclosed burner or similar device.
The Coastal Fire Centre’s fire ban, however, is still in effect outside the city limits and is expected to remain in place until Oct. 15, or until a decision is made otherwise.
The ban prohibits campfires and open burning of any size, as well as the use of fireworks, burning barrels, tiki torches and sky lanterns.
The prohibition does not apply to CSA-rated or ULC-rated cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes, or to a portable campfire apparatus that uses briquettes, liquid or gaseous fuel, as long as the height of the flame is less than 15 centimetres.