Warn­ings, fines is­sued as fire ban flouted

National Post (National Edition) - - CANADA - The Cana­dian Press

B.C. BLAZES

KAMLOOPS, B.C. •Of­fi­cials are aghast that some peo­ple are still ig­nor­ing camp­fire re­stric­tions in Bri­tish Columbia as wild­fires fu­elled by hot, dry and gusty con­di­tions con­tinue to plague the prov­ince.

RCMP Staff Sgt. An­nie Lin­teau said Fri­day that three men who ap­peared “to­tally obliv­i­ous to the wild­fire dan­ger” were slapped with a $1,150 fine Thurs­day even­ing af­ter be­ing caught drink­ing around a camp­fire by Kala­malka Lake near Ver­non.

“Winds were gusty and small em­bers were gently fly­ing from the camp­fire,” she said, adding the lo­cal fire depart­ment was brought in to en­sure the fire was out and wouldn’t spread.

With no sight of rain in the fore­cast to bring re­prieve, of­fi­cials are re­mind­ing the pub­lic to stay up-to-date and ad­here to park and camp­fire bans.

They also want peo­ple to be care­ful with dis­carded cig­a­rettes and re­mem­ber even hot en­gines and tailpipes taken off-road­ing could spark a fire.

Wild­fire ser­vice chief in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer Kevin Skrep­nek said a dozen new fires broke out Thurs­day, in line with a daily trend over the past week that could get worse.

“Thank­fully none of those fires have ma­te­ri­al­ized to any­thing of ma­jor con­cern,” he said. “To be per­fectly hon­est, the fact that we’re only get­ting 10 to 15 new fires is some­what sur­pris­ing given how volatile it is out there.”

Con­di­tions prompted the ex­pan­sion of an evac­u­a­tion or­der for some homes in a re­mote area west of Ques­nel late Thurs­day. Or­ders were still in ef­fect for some prop­er­ties out­side Wil­liams Lake, and oth­ers around fires north of Cache Creek and near Monte Lake, east of Kamloops.

A young cou­ple with two chil­dren con­firmed their home was de­stroyed in the fire near Monte Lake on Wed­nes­day.

Rel­a­tives of the fam­ily said they were away from home and had no op­por­tu­nity to grab im­por­tant pa­pers or other items be­fore flames raced up Martin Moun­tain.

Skrep­nek said the Kamloops air tanker base saw the high­est sin­gle-day use of fire re­tar­dant at 600,000 litres picked up on Thurs­day, which largely went to­ward fight­ing the Monte Lake fire that re­mains 150 hectares in size. A cause of that fire re­mains un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Robert Turner of Emer­gency Man­age­ment BC said about 5,000 res­i­dents are still af­fected by evac­u­a­tion or­ders, but the ex­act num­ber of peo­ple dis­placed is un­clear.

RCMP said there is con­fu­sion among those dis­placed, as some peo­ple whose homes are still un­der evac­u­a­tion or­der are show­ing up at check points think­ing they can re­turn. Of­fi­cials said any­one con­sid­er­ing head­ing home should first check maps on their re­gional dis­trict web­site to be sure the or­der on their prop­erty was re­scinded.

The wild­fire ser­vice said $160.8 mil­lion has been spent so far on sup­press­ing more than 800 fires since April 1.

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