The risk of fires in forested and wooded areas has heightened in the Tri-Cities amid the first stint of summer weather.
In Coquitlam, the city is sending out more bylaw enforcement officers in local parks this summer as a smoker caught lighting up in a public park could end up burning a $500 hole in their pocket.
In a release, spokesperson Aaron Hilgerdenaar explains the fine is increased between June 1 and Sept. 30 due to the greater risk of fires.
He says officers will be out daily on foot and e-bike looking for offenders, as well as educating the public on the dangers of lighting up in green spaces.
This includes any form of smoking, including cannabis and e-cigarettes, as well as open fires — all of which are banned from Coquitlam parks.
As well, a person could be fined an additional $150 if caught littering a cigarette butt.
As of this publication (June 28), Coquitlam's current fire risk is low, but residents and visitors are being encouraged to take all precautions to reduce the possibility of a blaze.
Prevention tips include:
- Do not have any open fires or conduct outdoor burning
- Watch for bans on using barbeques
- Relocate combustible debris or firewood at least 10 metres away from your home
- Be aware when mowing your lawn that if the blade comes into contact with a rock, it can cause a spark that may ignite a fire
- Ensure your vehicle's exhaust does not emit onto a dry lawn
- Reduce the amount of debris around your homes; prune your shrubs, remove dead and dry vegetation and tree limbs 2-3 metres from the ground
- Reduce the chance of fire spreading to your home by breaking up vegetation and tree canopies so they don’t create a line leading to your home
- Keep the roof and gutters clear of dead needles; prune branches that hang over the roof
Residents to see signs of smoke or a fire in their community are urged to call 911.
For more information, you can visit the summer fire safety page of the city of Coquitlam's website.