B.C. campfire enforcement service says 'people aren't getting it'
The province has issued $50,445 in fines for campfire violations since the ban
In the past month, despite the hundreds of wildfires burning throughout B.C. and the fiery destruction of the village of Lytton, conservation officers have come across dozens of people ignoring the province-wide campfire ban.
The B.C. Conservation Officer Service has issued 47 tickets — totalling $50,445 in fines — and 79 warnings for campfires across B.C., after the ban was put in place on June 30.
Todd Hunter, the service's acting inspector for the South Coast region, said "people aren't getting it."
"We have all our resources already taxed across the province. The wildfire service is doing everything they can," he said.
Hunter said there have been instances in the South Coast region where they have discovered campfires within metres of campfire ban signs in provincial parks.
"Right here in Golden Ears Provincial Park, if you can believe it or not, people are still lighting up," he said.
With some of the highest wildfire-related violation fines in Canada, the current fine for a campfire in B.C. is $1,150 and can be issued to all people using a fire. Hunter said there have been recent cases where they issued a ticket to every person using a fire.
Long weekend worries
The B.C. government issued a public warning urging caution over the long weekend. It includes a reminder that campfires are banned across much of province, with the exception of the Northwest Fire Centre, Haida Gwaii, and most of the Prince George Fire Centre.
"This year's fire season is turning into one of the most challenging on record," Forests Minister Katrine Conroy said in the news release.
Twenty-two of the 47 tickets issued in July were issued during the Canada Day long weekend, between July 1 and July 4. The regions with the most tickets during that time were the South Coast and Kootenays.
B.C. Wildfire Service information officer Jean Strong urged people to travel with caution this long weekend, particularly with the current heat wave.
"It might not be the best weekend to go into the backcountry, it might be time to spend some time in the front country or perhaps in town."
Hunter said there could be further repercussions for individuals who start forest fires, including additional fines and paying for firefighting costs.
"It might be a little campfire to cook your hot dogs but it could cause a significant public safety risk."