It is hard to believe that people are leaving campfires unattended after the summer’s wildfires, but that’s been the case, Cariboo Fire Centre information officer Natasha Brozntisky said Friday.
“Essentially we have had a number of reports from the public that they have come across campfires,” she told the Tribune. “In at least a couple of situations members of the public have put the fires out themselves and then just called us to say there was an abandoned campfire and they put it out but wanted us to know.”
While it is raining in Williams Lake, Broznitsky said one of the concerns going into the Thanksgiving weekend is the forecast for gusty winds.
“We are not expecting to see a lot of rain in some locations and although a lot of locations do have low fire ratings there are some pockets of high fire danger ratings, particularly west of the Fraser River,” she noted. “That combined with the grass curing that’s happening at this time of the year is a concern.”
It’s called grass curing when the grass dies and starts to turn brown and yellow and is much more prone to catching fire, she explained.
Anyone lighting or fuelling a campfire must fully extinguish it and ensure that the ashes are cold to the touch before leaving the site for any length of time.
Failure to do so could result in a hefty fine, Broznitsky said.
There are still crews on a number of fire areas throughout the region.
“We are starting to do assessments for rehabilitation work so it’s kind of a mix of personnel that we have out in the field right now,” she added.
Campfires are currently allowed in the Cariboo Fire Centre, but Category 2 and Category 3 open fires remain prohibited.
To report an abandoned campfire, wildfire or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 or *5555 on a cellphone. Whenever possible, the person submitting the report should include the location of the campfire and any information that could help identify the person responsible, such as a licence-plate number or a vehicle description.
Natural resource officers and conservation officers conduct regular patrols throughout British Columbia, including looking out for campfire-related infractions.
Anyone found in contravention of an open fire prohibition may be issued a ticket for $1,150, required to pay an administrative penalty of $10,000 or, if convicted in court, 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.