Province promises to aggressively enforce campfire ban
As campers head out for the B.C. Day long weekend, the Forest Ministry is promising to aggressively patrol for anyone flouting its recently expanded campfire ban.
With more than 279 wildfires burning in B.C., 175 of which started in the last three days, Minister Pat Bell said there will be no tolerance for those who refuse to comply with fire restrictions.
"It's not just the person who strikes the match who may be ticketed, it is anyone sitting around the campfire," Bell said in a release.
"These patrols aim to protect British Columbians, our property and forest resources by targeting the people whose carelessness and risk-taking cost us all."
Earlier this week, the Wildfire Management Branch banned campfires in every B.C. region except for the Southeast Fire Centre.
More than 150 provincial personnel will be patrolling over the long weekend, Bell said, and anyone caught violating the ban faces a $345 ticket. If their fire spreads, violators could be jailed for up to three years, pay a $1 million fine, and be ordered to pay all firefighting costs associated with putting it out.
"Fire activity has increased dramatically this past week," Bell said. "We can't afford to have our firefighting resources diverted by preventable fires."
Meanwhile, the City of Richmond has closed some local trails because of the extreme fire hazard, and banned smoking on several other trails.
Trails in Richmond Nature Park and along Shell Road have been barricaded, and no smoking signs have been posted along six trails and at McDonald Beach.
Of the 1,943 wildfires started in B.C. since April 1, 469 have been human caused. Another 462 were lightning caused.
For up-to-date information on fire bans, visit the Fire Safe B.C. website.