Fire crews in British Columbia are continuing their efforts to suppress a wildfire burning three kilometres south of the Nazko community, the province’s Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations said on Tuesday.
As of Tuesday, the Nazko fire was 60% contained by BC Wildfire Service crews, the ministry said in a media release. The fire was mapped on April 10 at 398 hectares.
Sixty-five firefighters, with the support of heavy equipment and a helicopter, were on site on Tuesday. It’s been determined that the Nazko fire was caused by industrial activity, with strong winds contributing to its spread, the ministry reported.
Another wildfire in the Cariboo Fire Centre, about 15 kilometres southeast of 70 Mile House near the Bonaparte River recreation site, is also suspected to be human-caused. Thirty-four firefighters are currently working on this fire, with the support of one helicopter, the release said. The fire spread into nearby timber on April 11 and is now estimated to cover 26 hectares.
Since April 1, the Cariboo Fire Centre has responded to 24 wildfires. All of these fires have been human-caused and three were specifically due to illegal open burning, the ministry said. Category 2 and 3 open fires have been prohibited since April 4 throughout the Cariboo Fire Centre, meaning that all open burning other than campfires is prohibited.
On April 1, increased fines for a variety of wildfire-related violation tickets came into force in B.C., meaning that anyone caught contravening specified open burning and campfire regulations could now face fines more than three times higher than last year’s penalties.
The regulatory changes were initially announced on March 10 and significantly increase ticket fines for 19 different violations under the Wildfire Act and another seven violations under the Wildfire Regulation. These changes mean that British Columbia now has some of the highest wildfire-related violation ticket fines in Canada, the ministry reported at the time. For example, the fine for not complying with a fire restriction under the Wildfire Act has tripled from $345 to $1,150. Failing to properly extinguish a burning substance, such as a cigarette, will now cost an offender $575, while failing to assess fire hazard will cost $767.
On average, 30 to 40% of wildfires in B.C. each year are caused by people, according to the ministry. The 2015 fire season was one of the busiest and most expensive in recent years, with over 283,400 hectares burned and over $278 million spent on wildfire management.