Careless campers causing headaches for wildfire officials

By Chad Klassen
August 2, 2016 - 4:59pm

KAMLOOPS — With the rain and cooler temperatures, the fire danger ratings aren't quite as high as this time last year, sitting at moderate through most of the Thompson-Okanagan. But officials are dealing with another problem, one caused by campers who have are being careless with their campfires.

The Kamloops Fire Centre reporting 38 abandoned campfires during the B.C. Day long weekend. There were 90 abandoned campfires across the province, leaving fire officials a bit concerned. 

"One of the reasons the Kamloops Fire Centre is so concerned about abandoned campfires is because they can spread," says Fire Information Officer Max Birkner. "Certainly, with windy conditions and hot weather, those campfires can spread very quickly."

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Birkner adds these kinds of "human-caused fires divert resources from other fires like lightning-caused fire that we've had this weekend, so we're trying to keep those to a minimum."

Despite the number of abandoned campfires this long weekend, they will still be allowed in the short term. But that could change quickly if people continue to leave campfires unattended. 

"A campfire prohibition is put in place when there is significant fire behaviour," says Birkner. "Also, weather plays a factor, and widespread non-compliance, so the chances of putting in a fire prohibition go up significantly if there is widespread non-compliance."

It's been an eerily quiet fire season to date. In the Kamloops Fire Zone, there have been 46 fires but only 60 hectares burned so far. That compares to 69 fires and 324 hectares burned in the region at this time time last summer. 

While the fire danger rating remains at moderate throughout most of the Thompson-Okanagan, warmer conditions are expected to begin tomorrow and last until Friday. 

The Kamloops Fire Centre would like to see people continue to enjoy themselves this summer, but they urge people be responsible and take care of their campfires. 

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