Calls to be careful in B.C.’s forests appear to be going unheard, or at least temporarily forgotten, judging by an eye-opening statistic.
On Wednesday, the BC Wildfire Service said fire wardens discovered and extinguished 32 abandoned campfires during the B.C. Day long weekend.
Those abandoned campfires weren’t a province-wide stat, but just in the Kamloops Fire Centre alone — a region that includes the Okanagan.
“Abandoned campfires can start wildfires. These sorts of incidents are preventable,” said the BC Wildfire Service.
“If the ashes from a campfire are not cold to the touch, the campfire has not been fully extinguished.”
The wildfire service added “careless campfire use can have costly repercussions. Anyone who leaves a campfire unattended for any length of time may be issued a ticket for $1,150.
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“If the contravention causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person responsible may be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs, as well as the value of the resources damaged or destroyed by the wildfire.”
The fire danger rating throughout B.C. varies, but the southern half of the province is mostly in the high category, though there are pockets of moderate and extreme ratings.
Since April 1, there have been 610 fires throughout B.C., including 28 in the last seven days. Of those 610, 42.3 per cent (258 fires) are suspected to have been caused by lightning, with people accounting for 36.9 per cent (225 fires). The remainder, 20.8 per cent (127 fires) have an unknown cause.
Regarding active fires, there are 13 in the Northwest Fire Centre; four in the Prince George Fire Centre; eight in the Coastal Fire Centre; six in the Kamloops Fire Centre; and six in the Southeast Fire Centre.
In the Kamloops Fire Centre, there have been 118 fires this year, and 92 of those are suspected to have been caused by humans. Overall, those 118 fires have combined to burn an estimated 1,696 hectares.