By Dale Boyd
The province has ordered all open burning to cease in B.C.’s Interior, a move fully supported by Osoyoos Fire Chief Dave McMahon.
McMahon is expecting all landowners in Osoyoos and rural areas to abide by the immediate ban on open burning, including agricultural waste burns, effective March 26.
“My expectation as a fire chief is that throughout all the fire protection area, all landowners are now banned from burning. Burning must cease and no further burning can take place this season,” said Dave McMahon, Osoyoos Fire Chief.
Resources are limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic, McMahon said, and fire services need to conserve personal protective equipment (PPE).
“It’s important we maintain our service delivery for this community and there’s a serious lack of PPE in the province and we have to make sure that we can maintain service levels,” McMahon said. “I welcome this burning ban in support of COVID-19 efforts.”
There is strong evidence that exposure to air pollution increases susceptibility to respiratory viral infections by decreasing immune function, the Ministry of Enviornment and Climate Change Strategy stated in a press release.
Deterioration in air quality may lead to more COVID-19 infections overall, the ministry stated, and deterioration in air quality may lead to more cases of severe COVID-19 infections, adding further demand to the healthcare system.
“Evidence suggests that air pollution from combustion sources is most strongly associated with increased risk of viral infection, particularly vehicle emissions and biomass burning. At this time the BC Centre for Disease Control strongly recommends that open burning of biomass fuels be restricted in areas with high or moderate risk of population exposure to the resulting smoke,” the ministry states.