Find out if that smoke is from a wildfire or a slash burn

A BC Wildlife Service interactive map lays out which fires are registered and which are not.

Smoke can leave residents wondering if they're looking at a wildfire or a slash burn.

Is that a wildfire or a slash burn?

If you have asked yourself that question, especially in late autumn, you’re not alone. In response, the BC Wildfire Service has created a map to help citizens determine if the smoke they’re seeing is actually from a registered open burn.

The Wildfire Service website features an interactive map that displays details and locations for all active Category 3 burn registrations, as well as any registrations that have expired in the last seven days.

This interactive map outlining the Open Fire Tracking System is available at:

http://ow.ly/Wdip306frpN. To view a specific area, simply zoom in like you would on a regular Google map. Ignore the dates that might be displayed at the top of the burn information.

A Category 3 fire is a fire that burns:

• material piled more than two metres high or three metres wide;

* stubble or grass over more than 0.2 hectares;

* more than two piles of any size.

Registered open burns are typically conducted on industrial sites, private property or farms to dispose of debris or clear fields for new crops.

These burns can be done in the fall and spring when the wildfire risk is generally low, but anyone wishing to light a Category 3 fire must first obtain a burn registration number by calling 1-888-797-1717. Burn registration numbers are logged into the Open Fire Tracking System, which allows the BC Wildfire Service to map and track open burning activity throughout B.C.

Smaller Category 2 open fires (such as backyard burns) do not require a registration number and are not displayed on this interactive map.

The Wildfire Act sets out specific requirements that anyone who does open burning must adhere to and all such fires must also comply with air quality control legislation. Local venting conditions, which must be checked before lighting a Category 3 open fire, can be obtained online at www.env.gov.bc.ca/epd/epdpa/venting/venting.html or by calling 1-888-281-2992.

Although wildfires are uncommon this late in the year, when in doubt, the public is urged to report smoke and flames by calling 1 800-663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on most cellular networks. Open fires can create significant amounts of smoke and appear to be quite intense (especially at night) even though they are burning safely within their planned boundaries.