According to the BC Conservation Officer Service, people have been relatively compliant and understanding with the fire bans in place in our region since early summer.
“(Conservation officers) have been very engaged this year – maybe more than in the past – with patrols … with the objective of ensuring compliance with fire bans,” said Steve Petrovcic, General Duty Officer for the North Island zone. “The majority of people we come across during the patrols are very understanding,” he said, and, in fact, seem surprised to hear that others have lit campfires, but adds there have been occasional “occurrences of non-compliance,” especially during and after the recent short-lived rain events.
Last weekend, for example, one group of people were huddled around a campfire fire in our area on Saturday night after a Friday night of 100 per cent compliance on their patrols.
“They openly admitted they had not checked the status of the fire bans and openly admitted they had made a bad call,” Petrovcic said.
“Those individuals were subject to a penalty under section 10(3) of the wildfire act,” Petrovcic said, which is a restriction on lighting, fuelling or using a fire contrary to restrictions, “in the form of a $345 out-of-court fine.”
In contrast to our regions’ compliance, officers in the Sea to Sky and Fraser areas are reporting receiving an average of three reports per night and are finding even more while on patrol, and campers have become increasingly confrontational with officers.
“We’ve approached a site and people have grabbed a shotgun out of their vehicle, set it on a table and tell us it’s loaded,” conservation officer Tim Schumacher told Global News last week in Squamish, even suggesting the need for armed enforcement officers to accompany fire ban patrols.
Petrovcic said while there have been some people in our region who “weren’t happy about not being able to have fires (when approached on patrol), it hasn’t been to the point of attempting to obstruct officers in their duties and certainly not to the point of threats.”
Petrovcic reminds the public to check bcwildfire.ca to find ban and restriction details before heading out into nature. He also reminds people to report any possible environmental violations – including fires that are contrary to bans and restrictions – to the Conservation Officer Service hotline at 1-800-952-RAPP (7277).