A scorching heat wave blowing through B.C.'s Southern Interior has led the province to announce a campfire ban effective noon Friday across all of the Kamloops Fire Centre — all, that is, but Clearwater.
The fire danger rating is currently high throughout the Kamloops Fire Centre with scattered pockets of extreme.
In the past, the B.C. Forest Service's safety precaution would have covered the entire Kamloops fire region and ruffled feathers in tourist-dependent Clearwater, which borders Wells Gray Park.
But thanks to some lobbying from regional and municipal government officials and tourist operators, the ministry realized the error of its ways and changed the boundaries for campfire restrictions a few years ago, said Thompson Nicola Regional District (TNRD) director Tim Pennell.
"It made sense so government actually did it, can you believe that?" laughed Pennell. "The reason (campfires were being banned) in the entire region was literally because it was easier for forestry to manage. And that doesn't make sense."
The region now includes six fire zones: Penticton, Salmon Arm, Kamloops, Lillooet and Clearwater, which starts around Little Fort.
And with the new regions, tourist operators don't have to explain why campfires are banned when rain has been pouring for days or, on one occasion Pennell recalled, when there was still snow on the ground.
"(Campfire bans) affect tourism significantly up here," he said.
Merlin Blackwell, owner of Blackwell Park Operations and a Clearwater town councillor, said he anticipates a spike in tourist bookings once word spreads of the region's exemption from the campfire ban.
"Yes, I expect a lot of uptake over this weekend," said Blackwell.
"The new strategy has made all the difference in the world (with) how we can accommodate our customers."
As for the rest of the Kamloops Fire Centre, the prohibition applies to open fires of any size, fires with a burn registration number, industrial burning, fireworks, tiki torches and burning barrels.
The prohibition does not apply to cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes, or to a portable campfire apparatus with a CSA or ULC rating that uses briquettes, liquid or gaseous fuel, as long as the height of the flame is less than 15 centimetres.
The open burning prohibition covers all B.C. parks, Crown and private lands.
Anyone found with an open fire can be fined up to $345. And if it causes a wildfire they could face costs of up to $1 million and spend up to three years in prison.