August 5, 2015 2:50 am
Updated: August 5, 2015 2:58 am

B.C. conservation officers threatened by campers violating fire ban

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WATCH: Despite widespread fire bans across the province some Conservation officers say they are stunned at the number of campers breaking the rules. Jeremy Hunka reports.

Campfire bans remain in place across most of southern B.C., but some conservation officers in Squamish say they are stunned at the number of campers breaking the rules.

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“It’s astonishing how many people are having fires,” said Tim Schumacher of the Conservation Officer Service. “People are deliberately breaking the law. They’re putting out the fire as we approach the site.”

On average, officers are receiving three reports of fire ban violations per night in the Sea to Sky and Fraser areas and they’re finding even more while on patrols.

Officers say not only are people knowingly violating the ban, some campers are increasingly confrontational.

“We’ve approached a site and people have grabbed a shotgun out of their vehicle, set it on a table and tell us it’s loaded,” said Schumacher. “We need armed enforcement officers out there to patrol a fire ban like that for everyone’s safety.

The refusal to comply comes as a spike in human-caused wildfires across the province has B.C.’s forests minister calling for more vigilance from the public.

Steve Thomson says only 18 of the 31 flare-ups over the long weekend were caused by lightning.

There are 140 fires currently burning in the province, out of the nearly 1,400 blazes that began this season.

B.C.’s chief fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek says hot, dry conditions will likely lead to an increase in wildfires over the next few days

Firefighting efforts have cost the province almost $175 million since April, compared to nearly $130 million spent by this time last year.

-With files from Jeremy Hunka and Canadian Press

© 2015 Shaw Media

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