North Okanagan conservation officers issue two $1,150 fines for violating B.C.’s campfire ban

A photo of one of two $1,150 fines that were issued in the North Okanagan this past weekend for violating the province’s current campfire ban. B.C. Conservation Officer Service

A member with B.C.’s conservation service says officers aren’t taking it easy on people who ignore the province’s current campfire ban.

The ban came into effect on June 30, when B.C. was baking under a record-setting heat dome that smashed daily temperature records across the province.

Yet despite officials issuing warnings that the ban was coming, it seems some didn’t get the message. And this week, two individuals found out the hard way.

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This week, the Conservation Officer Service (COS) posted photos of two $1,150 tickets for people having lit campfires this past weekend.

The COS says the separate tickets, issued under the Wildfire Act, were handed out in the North Okanagan.

“Officers have been doing fire patrols since (June 30),” said Mike Richardson, a conservation officer in Vernon. “And we did come across two fires on Friday night.”

In an interview with Global News, Richardson said one fire came from a public report, while the second was spotted by an officer on patrol.

“Tickets were issued. We feel it’s a good deterrent for people,” Richardson said of the hefty fines.

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Richardson noted that officers can not only fine the person who started the campfire, but also those sitting around it.

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“What people don’t realize is that every person who’s sitting around that campfire could also be issued violation tickets,” said Richardson.

“It’s not just the person who lit it, it’s also the people who use it as well. People who are enjoying that campfire can also be issued tickets as well.”

The charge is called “light fire or use fire against restriction.” More about the Wildfire Act can be learned here.

“A lot of the time, people are cooperative,” said Richardson. “They tell us that they didn’t realize that there’s a fire ban on — which we’re kind of baffled by because of all the smoke in the air and the (wildfires).

“How can you not know there isn’t a fire ban?”

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Richardson says many signs have been posted, indicating a campfire ban is in place.

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“It’s very hard to hear that people don’t know. But we’re not giving any breaks. If we find a campfire, a lot of times a person or people will be issued violation tickets because it’s very serious right now.”

Richardson also said if someone did start a fire that led to a wildfire, that person could be held financially liable for the firefighting costs.

“Usually when they hear that, they’re pretty shocked,” said Richardson.

For more about B.C.’s fire bans, visit this website.

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