The current fire ban in the Southeast Fire Centre began on July 3 and is still on-going. Due to campers not complying with the ban, conservation officers (CO) are out almost every night doing patrols throughout the East Kootenays from Fernie up to Golden and are still finding people having campfires almost on a nightly basis. According to Srgt. Cam Schley with Conservation Officer Services East Kootenay zone, the majority of people are good about putting their campfires out when approached by the CO’s but there is always the bad apple that takes a little more convincing.
“Each situation is different and we have had a few incidents where we have had to de-escalate situations that potentially could have been dangerous from an officer safety point of view,” said Schley. “We work in pairs and our officers have excellent training and have been able to deal with all of the situations they have come across in a safe manner. Sometimes we are dealing with people who have had too much alcohol so that can escalate situations, but so far so good.
“As hard as it is not to have a campfire when you are camping, we just want people to respect the campfire ban,” he said. “The ramifications of having a campfire with how dangerously dry conditions are right now can have devastating effects for the area, not just from a residential and property perspective but also from a tourism perspective.”
Since July 3 in the East Kootenays, CO’s have issued 58 $345 tickets for campfires and have put out 55 campfires in that time.
Multiple tickets can be handed out around each fire as any person standing around the fire can get a ticket, not just the person that lights it.
“Just being at the fire is a violation,” said Schley. “So again the message is just don’t have a wood campfire.”
An alternative to a wood campfire is the propane campfires, which are perfectly legal and are a good alternative for people who still want the campfire ambiance. Currently CO’s are seeing approximately 20 of these a night compared to just a couple at the beginning of July.
For more information on the fire ban access the Southeast Fire Centre website at http://bcwildfire.ca/aboutus/organization/southeast/.