A firefighter at the scene of the Cougar Creek fire at Nahatlatch Provincial Park

A firefighter at the scene of the Cougar Creek fire at Nahatlatch Provincial Park

New penalties eyed for careless fire starts

Province considers barring people from provincial campgrounds for campfire violations, seizing vehicles of careless smokers

The B.C. government is reviewing its penalties for those who start forest fires with campfires or discarded cigarette butts, as losses pile up from a severe early fire season.

Prince George-Mackenzie MLA Mike Morris has been assigned to the review, as the province’s forest fire crews continue to work flat-out to keep up with lightning-caused fires and those caused by human carelessness. Morris said he will examine what new penalties can be effectively enforced.

“For example, should we be banning those who break fire bans from attending our provincial parks?” Morris said. “Should we look at larger fines up to and including possibly of the impoundment of vehicles for those who flick lit cigarette butts out of their windows?”

One tree faller has been killed this season as the B.C. Wildfire Service continues to work against 175 active wildfires, down from 200 since the start of the week due to cooler weather and showers. The service has tackled more than 1,000 forest fires so far this year, about a third of them human caused.

“There are some who have suggested you can’t legislate against stupidity,” Forests Minister Steve Thomson said. “But if exploring the idea of increasing fines or acting on ideas that mean more people will get the message, I think we should be prepared to have a look at it.”

Witnesses can report careless smokers or breaches of the province-wide outdoor fire ban with the same phone numbers as to report wildfires, 1-800-663-5555 or *5555 on a mobile phone.

Of the 14 new fires Monday, two are suspected to have been human-caused. About 375 of this season’s fires are listed as human-caused, burning 44,000 hectares.

Most new forest fire starts this week have been from lightning storms in the Kootenay region, but most were accompanied by rain and no large new fires have been added.

States of local emergency continue in the Cariboo, Squamish-Lillooet and Alberni-Clayoquot Regional Districts as of Tuesday.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
UPDATED: One man shot dead in ‘targeted incident’ on Sooke Road

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

A decade into the 100-year blueprint for restoring the Bowker Creek watershed, Soren Henrich, director of the Friends of Bowker Creek Society, feels positive about the future of conservation and daylighting of the creek. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Ten years in, Greater Victoria’s 100-year Bowker Creek blueprint gets a boost

Victoria council passes several restoration recommendations

A resurfacing of the tennis court in Metchosin is being eyed for the community. However, funding opportunities still need to be solidified for the project. (Michelle Cabana/Black Press Media)
Renewed surface eyed for Metchosin tennis court

Funding source must first be solidified in order for project to happen

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels after found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Retired B.C. teacher and star CFL kicker charged for assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

More than ever before, as pandemic conditions persist, the threat of data breaches and cyberattacks continues to grow, according to SFU professor Michael Parent. (Pixabay photo)
SFU expert unveils 5 ways the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed cybersecurity

Recognizing these changes is the first in a series of steps to mitigate them once the pandemic ends, and before the next: Michael Parent

Kevin Haughton is the founder/technologist of Courtenay-based Clearflo Solutions. Scott Stanfield photo
Islander aims Clearflo clean drinking water system at Canada’s remote communities

Entrepreneur $300,000 mobile system can produce 50,000 litres of water in a day, via solar energy

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

Most Read