Forest floors across the Tri-Cities have gone dry.
As summer weather and a lack of precipitation have caused drought-like conditions in the Lower Mainland, fire safety crews in Port Moody, Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam have all upgraded their fire danger ratings to 'Extreme.'
In each community, this means there's no smoking allowed in public parks and trails — if caught, a fine up to $500 could be issued.
In Port Moody, Fire Rescue (PMFR) Lieutenant Jeff Scallion took to social media to encourage do-diligence by local residents and visitors after officially pushing the arrow into the big red block indicating the 'Extreme' rating now in effect.
"We've seen what's going on in the Okanagan, Osoyoos and outside Kamloops. We don't need that here in Port Moody," he explained in referring to the wildfires raging through the interior.
There are nearly 300 wildfires are burning across B.C. The province officially issued a state of emergency on Tuesday (July 20) as hundreds of residents have been forced from their homes and thousands more remain on alert.
"We live in a beautiful community filled with lots and lots of forest; all of that forest up on Heritage Mountain and Eagle Mountain, that is all fuel," Scallion added.
"We need our residents to be extremely diligent and be vigilant when you're in the woods. Do not smoke in the woods, if you see a fire call it in immediately."
In Coquitlam, the rating went up to 'Extreme' after enduring a 'High' warning for 18 consecutive days.
According to Environment Canada, the Tri-Cities is in for a consistent sunny week in the low-to-mid 20s and will feel like 27 C by Sunday (July 25) with the dry humidity.
Metro Vancouver has listed the following regional parks with an 'Extreme' fire danger rating:
- Belcarra Regional Park
- Colony Farm Regional Park
- Minnekhada Regional Park
In all Tri-City communities, outdoor cooking appliances are also banned from parks, forested lands and public green spaces until further notice.
The city of Port Coquitlam bumped its fire danger rating on Wednesday (July 21), adding all camp fires and open burning are banned including along rivers and in backyards.
Residents are also encouraged not to park their vehicles, motorbikes or gas-powered bicycles on dry grass as to avoid potential sparks.
In any community, you're encouraged to call 911 if you spot a fire, see or smell smoke, burning of any kind or any kind of fire threatening situation.
The B.C. government has offered tips on how to conserve water with the majority of the lower Fraser River basin currently experiencing a Level Three drought.
- Limit outdoor watering
- Do not water during the heat of the day or when it is windy
- Consider planting drought-tolerant vegetation
- Take shorter showers
- Do not leave taps running
- Install water-efficient showerheads, taps and toilets
On the farm:
- Implement an irrigation scheduling program using real-time weather data
- Schedule irrigation to match crop needs and soil storage capacity
- Improve water system efficiencies and check for leaks
- Focus on high-value crops and livestock
- Reduce non-essential water use
- Recycle water used in industrial operations
- Use water-efficient methods and equipment