The acting conservation sergeant for White Rock to Boston Bar is speaking out about the amount of illegal fires he’s witnessed in the Fraser Valley this month.
“We’ve charged 14 people over the last three weekends,” said conservation officer, Don Stahl. “We’re finding that the message doesn’t seem to be getting out to everyone as people are still willing to risk being charged (for starting fires).”
Starting last month, most of British Columbia was placed under a fire ban due to high temperatures and no forecast of rain: this means no open burning or campfires.
“This means no tiki torches, no binary targets, no fireworks,” said Stahl. “Propane fires are allowed as long as they’re CSA-approved.”
But people aren’t listening, so in addition to their regular shifts, conservation officers from both Nanaimo and Maple Ridge have volunteered to make the trek to the Fraser Valley to lend a hand.
“They handle other calls during the day, and after a short break they do another shift at night,” Stahl continued. And it’s during those night shifts that Stahl says they’re finding a large amount of illegal fires.
“These fires are all on Crown forests, and all outside of campgrounds. Some of these fires are even underneath trees, which is very concerning,” added the 20-year conservation officer.
If you’re caught starting a fire, feeding it, or even sitting around it, Stahl says you can be issued a fine for up to $1,150 and your name will be entered into the conservation database.
“Every stop we run their names through the database, and if it’s there, it’s probably not going to be just a ticket,” said Stahl. “We’ll ask for a court appearance” where a judge can impose a heftier fine, or possibly levy criminal charges.
If you witness any illegal burning activity, you’re urged to call the Report All Polluters and Poachers (RAPP) hot-line at 877-952-7277 and make an anonymous report.