With increasing wildfire activity and continued hot and dry conditions, British Columbians are encouraged to do everything they can to prevent wildfires and help the province’s hardworking firefighters and support staff get the job done.
“The men and women of the BC Wildfire Service are working long hours in sometimes very difficult conditions, so I’m asking everyone to do their part to prevent wildfires and not add to their workload,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.
“Be careful when you’re out in the backcountry. Follow the rules and avoid any activities that could start a wildfire.”
The month of August is generally the most active part of B.C.’s wildfire season. Human-caused fires are preventable and unnecessarily divert crucial firefighting resources from naturally occurring wildfires.
This year from April 1 through August 1, the BC Wildfire Service responded to 1,260 wildfires throughout B.C., 27 per cent of which were caused by people.
Donaldson reminds drone operators, recreational boaters and users of other types of watercraft to stay clear of areas where firefighting aircraft are operating. Interference with their efforts could have deadly consequences and result in large fines, or even jail time, for those involved.
“When airtankers or helicopters are working around wildfires or picking up water from nearby lakes, they need lots of room to manoeuvre,” said Donaldson.
“People who get in the way pose a serious safety risk for the air crews and anyone else in the area. They also cause delays in getting fires under control.”
Campfires are currently banned everywhere in British Columbia except within the Prince George Fire Centre’s jurisdiction. In those areas where campfires are still allowed, people are urged to use caution and remain vigilant. Information about open burning prohibitions in effect is available on the BC Wildfire Service website: www.gov.bc.ca/wildfirebans.
The government’s natural resource officers and conservation officers conduct regular patrols throughout British Columbia and monitor high-risk activities. These officers work closely with BC Wildfire Service staff to investigate the cause of wildfires and any improper use of fire when an open burning prohibition is in effect.
Anyone found in contravention of an open-burning prohibition may be issued a violation ticket for $1,150, may be required to pay an administrative penalty of $10,000 or, if convicted in court, may be fined up to $100,000 and/or sentenced to one year in jail. If the contravention causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person responsible may be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.
To report a wildfire or open-burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free, or *5555 on a cellphone.