With wildfires raging across B.C., virtually every region of the province is under a campfire ban.
But people don’t seem to be getting the message.
The B.C. Conservation Officers Service (COS) handed out 42 tickets over the B.C. Day long weekend to people having fires, worth more than $43,000 in total.
Breaking the ban can net you a $1,150 fine, a significant increase from two years ago when the penalty was $345.
“It’s not just frustrating, it’s disappointing in the sense that people are well aware that the province is on fire,” said Insp. Tobe Spaydo with the COS.
“And yet they choose to disregard the ban and put people’s lives at risk.”
The connection between campfires and wildfires is no joke.
West Vancouver firefighters told Global News they believe a new fire burning above Horseshoe Bay may have been sparked by campers.
WATCH: July heatwave sparks campfire ban across parts of B.C.
Spaydo said he thinks many people figure they can just get away with having a fire.
“They figure, depending where they’re at, that the likelihood of getting caught is slim,” he said.
“We have the ability to charge everybody that’s using the particular campfire, so if you have a party of six, we could issue $6,000 to $7,000 worth of tickets, but typically we issue the one ticket.”
“They might look at the fact that, ‘Hey, between the six of us it’s only 200 bucks, kind of thing.'”
WATCH: Wildfire Above Horseshoe Bay
Spaydo said the most common excuse conservation officer’s hear is people claiming they didn’t know about the ban, followed closely by people trying to claim they have a cook fire not a campfire.
He said neither of those excuses will get you you out of a ticket.
Campfires and open fires are currently banned in every region of B.C. except the Prince George Fire Centre — where there are major restrictions — and a strip along the west coast of Vancouver Island known as the Fog Zone.
The prohibitions do not apply to CSA-rated or ULC-rated cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes, or to portable campfire apparatuses that used briquettes, liquid or gaseous fuel so long as the flames are shorter than 15 centimetres.
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