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NEWS RELEASE · 19th May 2010
Ministry of Forest and Range
Forests and Range Minister Pat Bell is congratulating British Columbia communities for stepping up their wildfire preparedness and prevention campaigns despite forecasted rainfall and cooler temperatures for the May long weekend.

"The Province has been preparing for the 2010 fire season by opening the new $4.5 million Provincial Wildfire Coordination Centre in Kamloops and spending more than $2.3 million in airtanker base upgrades, but we cannot go it alone," said Bell. "Inter-agency co operation, training and practice are integral to protecting people and property during a potentially busy wildfire season."

The City of Kamloops, in co-operation with the Ministry of Forests and Range, is currently conducting a two-day wildfire response training session within the Erin Valley. The simulation includes evacuations, airtanker drops and the deployment of sprinkler protection units. A public forum on wildfire preparedness was also recently held in Kelowna, and the RCMP led a wildfire evacuation scenario near Kalamalka Lake last weekend.

"Whether you are heading out camping or relaxing at home, it is easy to let your guard down when you see cloudy skies and showers," said Bell. "Conditions can change quickly at this time of year. Now is the perfect opportunity to learn and practise what to do to prevent wildfires and protect your family."

Despite potentially wet conditions this weekend, people are urged to get into the habit of properly lighting, managing and extinguishing campfires or backyard burns.

Homeowners can also download copies of the FireSmart manual from http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/firecom/ and help safeguard their properties by following a few easy steps.

Since April 1, the Province has responded to 213 wildfires, of which 199 were human-caused.

The public is reminded that burning restrictions are currently in place for both the Cariboo and Coastal Fire Centres. Anyone found in contravention could be fined up to $345 or held responsible for suppression costs if their negligence results in a wildfire.

To report a wildfire or unattended campfire call 1-800 663-5555 or *5555 by cellphone. For more information on open fire restrictions, prevention tips and updates on current wildfire activity, visit www.bcwildfire.ca.