Despite drought conditions and two heat waves this summer, conservation officers say an increasing number of British Columbians are breaking the rules and starting campfires.
Conservation officers have issued 47 tickets, totalling more than $50,000, and 79 warnings since a province-wide campfire ban went into effect on June 30.
At $1,150 per ticket, B.C. has some of the highest wildfire-related violation fines in Canada. However, those tasked with enforcement say they continue to encounter shocking behaviour in popular recreation spots.
“I had one particular incident right here on Alouette Lake where a group was loading up a boat full of firewood and I asked them what they were doing with it and they were very oblivious to it,” Sgt. Todd Hunter of the B.C. Conservation Officer Service said. “They knew of the fire ban, they knew they shouldn’t be doing it, but they were doing it irregardless.”
Hunter says too many people still aren’t getting the message about the risk associated with campfires.
“It’s blatant disregard for other people’s safety,” he said. “It’s very selfish to go out there and camp and light a fire. There should be no reason that we’re discovering a number of fires, especially on Alouette Lake. It’s shocking.”
The campfire ban is in effect until Oct. 15 at noon or until the order is rescinded.
The ban came after B.C. saw record high temperatures and a spring that saw less precipitation than normal.
A campfire is defined as any fire smaller than 0.5 metres high by 0.5 metres wide, according to the province.
The use of fireworks, sky lanterns, burn barrels or burn cages, chimineas, binary exploding targets, tiki and similar kinds of torches is also prohibited.