This picture is of a 0.2 hectare fire in the Invermere Fire Zone that occurred on July 24th near the Templeton Forest Service Road.

Two contained wildfires in effect in Columbia Valley

Despite a wet start to the summer season, wildfires continue to be a concern for the Columbia Valley.

With all the rain this summer, the fire danger rating for the Invermere Fire Zone is low to moderate, but that doesn’t mean the area is immune to wildfires. Currently, there are two active fires in the area, both caused by lightning strikes.

“The first one discovered on August 2nd is located southeast of Edgewater up on the mountainside and it’s listed as 0.01 hectares in size. It’s currently being mopped up so it is 100 per cent contained. It is not threatening any structures or communities. The second one is 40 kilometres west of Edgewater and it’s located in Bugaboo (Provincial) Park and that fire is 0.009 hectares or less. That one is also 100 per cent contained and is currently being mopped up and it’s not threatening any communities or structures,” said fire information officer Karlie Shaughnessy.

This fire season, the Invermere Fire Zone has had 13 abandoned campfires reported the five-year average is 18 abandoned fires. In the province of British Columbia, 32 campfires were abandoned over the B.C. day long weekend.

“Anyone caught leaving their campfire unattended or abandoning a campfire can be issued a violation ticket for $1,150 and if that fire were to spread and cause a wildfire, they could also be liable for all fire suppression costs. They could also pay an administrative penalty of $10,000 and, if convicted in court, a fine up to $100,000 or sentenced to one year in jail,” said Shaughnessy.

In the Invermere Fire Zone, there have been 13 wildfires and the majority of those were caused by lightning strikes. The five-year average for wildfires at this time of the year is 20 wildfires. To keep wildfires down, fire restrictions are in place.

“All types of fires including fireworks, burning barrels, any kind of fire is banned, except for campfires less than half a metre by half a metre,” said Shaughnessy.

Residents of the Columbia Valley may notice more smoke in the area in the coming days due to southeast winds bringing up smoke from across the U.S. border. The Southeast Fire Centre is predicting more smoke from fires in Washington state and Idaho to come up into the area.

A reminder for anyone who sees an unattended wildfire or open burning fire violation to report it by calling 1-800-663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone. For more information on wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures or air quality advisories, visit www.bcwildfire.ca.