It was ridiculously unsafe, says Fort St. John resident Shelley Ouellette.
Skies over the Interior town were ignited by a municipal display of fireworks this Canada Day, despite a province-wide fire ban and 119 wildfires that have recently sparked across B.C.
A resident of the city for 63 years, Ouellette was angered to hear the screaming explosions from her home on Thursday evening.
“Towns are burning down and here we are, trying to light ours up,” Ouellette questioned. “It’s irresponsible to ignite them when conditions are tinder dry.”
Smoke from a 4,800-hectares on fire near Beatton River and 6,000-hectares a blaze close to Buckinghorse River began to roll into the city Wednesday, according to FireSmoke Canada.
According to BC Wildfire Service fire danger ratings, Fort St. John is under moderate to high risk, which means there is an increased risk of surface fires starting and caution should be used.
During the recent heat wave, the city experienced scorching temperatures with highs 20 degrees above average.
“Everything is very dry. The storm we had on June 30 had continuous lightning strikes that started fires and a tornado touched down north of the city destroying buildings and homes,” Ouellette said.
As it stands, purchasing or setting off fireworks is illegal within Fort St. John city limits per bylaw.
“Citizens cannot do it but the city could?” Ouellette questioned.
The city told Black Press Media they chose to bypass the fire ban under municipal bylaws after consulting fire department officials about firework risks.
“Our Canada Day fireworks could safely go ahead,” attested Ryan Harvey, a spokesperson for the city. “Firefighters were on standby at the location in case anything went awry.”
RCMP in the area said they were also aware of fireworks going off July 1. No fires were sparked from the event.
In a statement to Black Press Media, BC Wildfire Service said that violations against ongoing bans can be made by calling 1-877-952-72777.
“There is no immediate wildfire risk to the city but conditions are still extremely hot and dry so it’s unpredictable,” said information officer Hannah Harris.
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