Campfires left unattended as danger rating hits extreme

With the long weekend a day away, the province is warning us all that fires are a concern

Don’t let the greenery, flooding or late summer fool you. Fire season is here.

The BC Wildfire Service has set the danger rating in the Kamloops Fire Centre between high and extreme.

“There is definitely a very high danger rating in the Kamloops Fire Centre right now,” said Max Birkner, fire information officer.

“We are really concerned about abandoned campfires lately, we’ve had quite a few. A lot of the fires we have been seeing have been human caused.

“When there are preventable human-caused fires then that takes away resources from naturally occurring fires such as a lightning fires. While we could just be fighting lightning fires, we have to fight all these extra human-caused fires.”

This point was driven home over this past weekend when a group of Okanagan forest warriors discovered three unattended campfires in the woods around Kelowna.

Okanagan Forest Task Force organizer Kane Blake went live with one of the videos of a smouldering unattended campfire up Postill Lake Road on June 26.

Birkner said this trend of unattended campfires is now a major concern for the provincial fire fighting force.

“Coming up on the long weekend here, people will be camping, which is great. We love people enjoying the outdoors, but we are also asking them to be careful,” said Birkner.

“It is also important to note that fireworks are prohibited right now. While people may be really tempted to set off fireworks on Canada Day we are asking them not to do that. This is because there is a very high fire-danger rating.”

Related: For more information on the current Category 2 and Category 3 ban click here.

Not only could a careless camper trigger a destructive wildfire, they are personally facing large fines.

“The fine for an abandoned campfire is $1,150 and, of course, if that fire spreads and becomes a wildfire they can be held liable for all firefighting costs,” said Birkner.

“Just think of the resources being used, it is absolutely unnecessary to abandon a campfire. It is so very simple to put them out, instead of leaving it behind. And, the consequences of leaving it behind are very serious.”

The Kamloops Fire Centre itself covers a very large area from Blue River in the north to the U.S. border in the south and from Bridge River in the west to the Monashee Mountains in the east.

There are currently six active fires in the Kamloops Fire Centre and officials have responded to 45 fires so far this year, which have burned a total of 329 hectares.

The 156-hectare Dew Drop fire near Kamloops is currently 60 per cent contained.

Provincially, crews have attended 243 different wildfires that have burned 1,636 hectares.

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