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Fines for open burning handed out in North Okanagan

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July 25, 2017 - 1:00 PM

ARMSTRONG - Some people just aren’t getting the message.

Armstrong-Spallumcheen Fire Chief Ian Cummings says he’s responded to a number of burning complaints over the past week.

“It’s somewhat surprising,” he says. “We still have some people that don’t recognize the dangers of having a fire.”

Campfires and open burning are currently banned across the Kamloops Fire Centre, which covers Lillouet, Kamloops, Merritt, Salmon Arm, Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton.

In response to the burning violations, Cummings has issued three fines under municipal laws.

“It’s $200 for the first offence,” he says. “If B.C. Wildfire was to stop by it would be significantly more. Their fine is over $1,000.”

Most people caught with illegal fires claim they didn’t know about the ban, Cummings says.

“I don’t think people realize fire can spread as quickly as it does. They think they’ll keep watch on it and be able to handle it if anything happens, but once the wind comes up, even if you do have a water source there, you can be overcome so quickly,” he says.

Aside from being hit in the pocket book, Cummings says people need to think about the broader costs of violating the fire ban.

“Ticketing is the least of their concerns. The fire can get away on them and they can be responsible for lives at risk or structures lost, which could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars or more,” he says.

Since the beginning of April, more than 700 fires have scorched roughly 3,700 square kilometres in B.C., racking up millions of dollars in fire suppression costs. Some 44,000 people were displaced, and despite some recent evacuation orders being lifted, about 20,000 still can’t return home.

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