French Beach has fire pits for picnics.

Play it safe with campfires in parks

With the weather heating things up, be cautious with flames

It’s supposed to be a long, hot and dry summer.

Besides being wary of bears and cougars, the other thing you have to keep in mind when you’re camping in our fine parks is proper management of your campfire.

If you need incentive, look in your wallet. If you have some in there, look at the money. And, if you need to, think about the pleasure of keeping it for your own living needs.

On the flip side, consider burning it. Which is what you will essentially be doing if you disregard any burning restrictions. Contravening a fire prohibition can cost you $345. If your contravention causes or contributes to a wildfire, that number goes up to $10,000 AND you may be ordered to pay all associated firefighting costs. If convicted in court, the maximum fine is $100,000 and one year in jail.

According to the District of Sooke’s bylaws, Open Air Fire refers to the “burning or combustion of any material or substance in the open air outdoors, not including Incinerators or Burning Barrels.” Open fires are not permitted in the months of June through September.

Outdoor fires in fire pits, elsewhere referred to as campfires, are allowed, provided the following conditions exist:

The masonry or metal fire pit does not exceed 24 inches in diameter.

The fire pit is at least 20 feet away from property lines and buildings.

The fire pit is at least 10 feet away from all grasses, shrubs, wood, or other combustable materials

A garden hose or other water source is readily available as the fire burns.

The fire is fully extinguished by 1:00 a.m.

BC Wildfire Management Branch further recommends that fires not be lit in strong winds, or when strong winds are forecast.

If you are so inclined, other fines are available. Failure to report a fire will cost you $115. Dropping or mishandling a burning substance, or not properly extinguishing a burning substance (including cigarettes) will set you back $173. Failure to comply with a fire restriction will empty another $345 from your wallet.

To stay informed of the latest conditions and restrictions for your area, contact the BC Wildfire Management Branch. They can be found online bcwildfire.ca, or you can call the Coastal Fire Centre (located in Parksville) at 250-951-4222. The District of Sooke can help you navigate through local regulations, at sooke.ca or 250-642-1634.