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By Christine Rumleskie

Fire officials are urging Fort St. John residents to take caution during their annual spring cleanup.

The Forest Ministry sent out a warning to British Columbians on April 1st, urging residents to be careful when backyard burning this spring.

Captain Greg Nicoll with the Fort St. John Fire Department says even though there’s still snow on the ground, residents should still take caution when lighting a match.

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Nicoll says the rule of thumb is to avoid lighting a fire, and instead take all backyard debris to a local dump.

He says if homeowners decide to light a fire, they should tell their neighbours, and call the local fire department to give firefighters a heads-up.

Although uncontrolled backyard fires do tend to cause wildfires, Captain Nicoll says it’s still too early to predict the impact of the upcoming fire season.

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Some tips to take into consideration include pruning tree branches to at least two metres off the ground, removing all trees or shrubs within ten metres of a house, and storing firewood ten metres or more from a house.

To ensure fire safety, the Forest Ministry also recommends that a fire site is located away from buildings, trees and combustible materials, and that wind conditions be taken into consideration.

A burn registration number is required to burn piles larger than three metres wide by two metres high, or for burns exceeding 0.2 hectares (more than 2,000 square metres). Numbers can be attained free of charge by calling 1-888 797-1717.

To report a wildfire or unattended campfire, call 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on most cellular networks.

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