Public urged to be more cautious with fire use

The B.C. Wildfire Service wants to reduce human-caused wildfires in the South Okanagan.

More caution with fire means less scenes like this at the wildfires that raged through the South Okanagan last summer.

More caution with fire means less scenes like this at the wildfires that raged through the South Okanagan last summer.

The B.C. Wildfire Service is urging the public to be more careful with fire use in an effort to reduce the risk of human-caused wildfires. Over the weekend, fire wardens discovered and extinguished 21 abandoned campfires.

Abandoned campfires may lead to wildfires and are completely preventable. Human-caused wildfires divert resources away from naturally-occurring incidents. Since Friday, the Kamloops Fire Centre, which includes Penticton, has responded to 20 new fire starts, 14 of which were caused by lightning.

It is paramount that the public be vigilant with fire use and other activities in the back country during this time of increased fire activity.

Careless campfire use can have costly repercussions. Anyone who leaves a campfire unattended for any length of time can be fined $1,150. If that fire turns into a wildfire, that person may be fined up to $1 million, face three years in prison and be required to pay for all related fire suppression costs.

To date, the B.C. Wildfire Service has responded to 130 wildfires, which have burned 252 hectares. Fifty-seven of those fires have been lightning-caused and 71 are suspected to be human-caused. Currently, the fire danger rating through the region is moderate with pockets of high in the Clearwater, Salmon Arm and Penticton Fire Zones.

To report a wildfire or unattended campfire, call *5555 on your cellular phone or call 1-800-663-5555 toll-free. For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, visit www.bcwildfire.ca.

You can also follow the latest wildfire news on Twitter at BCGovFireInfo or on Facebook at BCForestFireInfo.