B.C. Wildfire Services is reminding people to put out their campfires after wardens were forced to extinguish dozens of them on the long weekend.
Information officer Ryan Turcot told CBC News that 58 abandoned fires were found still smouldering, noting that if any stray sparks escaped their pits, they could have easily caused wildfires.
On average, nearly half of all wildfires are started by people—the other half are the result of lightning strikes. According to reports, B.C. firefighters have responded to 130 wildfires this year, 71 of which are suspected to be caused by humans.
“Even one human-caused is one too many, so to see 58 abandoned campfires over the course of the long weekend is somewhat disappointing,” said Turcot, who believes many people aren’t educated on how to deal with fires.
He says it’s a common misconception that once a fire’s flames are gone, it’s fully extinguished. But before leaving a fire unattended, you should always make sure the ashes are cool to touch. That’s why anyone having a campfire is expected to have a shovel and eight litres of water nearby.
If you don’t fully extinguish a fire before leaving it behind, the consequences are high. Fines for leaving a campfire unattended go as high as $1,150, and that’s if it doesn’t cause any further damage.
According to the province of British Columbia’s website, if the unattended flame does lead to a wildfire, you could also be forced to cover the associated firefighting costs, which can range anywhere from $100,000 to $1 million, and be sentenced to one year in prison.
To learn more about current fire bans and restrictions, or even how to prevent your campfire from turning into a wildfire, visit the province of British Columbia’s website.