Horgan on Human-Caused Wildfires
Prince George, B.C. – Is it time to come down harder on those responsible for human-caused wildfires?
At least two wildfires this season – the Elephant Hill fire north of Cache Creek and the Knox Mountain fire in Kelowna – are believed to have been deliberately set.
In fact, a tip line was set up earlier this week by the RCMP (1-855-685-8788) to gather more information about the Elephant Hill fire – a blaze that started July 6 and has grown to over 93,00 hectares in size.
Last weekend, that fire forced the evacuation of Clinton, 70 Mile House and Green Lake plus additional areas southeast of Clinton yesterday.
According to the BC Wildfire Service there have been 884 fires since the season started April 1 – many of them human-caused.
“And while not all of those have causes ascribed to them, we’re fairly confident 358 of those were person caused,” says chief fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek.
“Typically by the end of the year we’re at a 60-40 ratio in terms of naturally occurring fires and person caused fires.”
He adds the most common types of human caused fires are related to open burning – be it backyard burns, industrial burns or campfires.
Others are the result of discarded cigarettes, sparks coming off railway tracks or from off-road vehicles (which is why a prohibition was put in place for the Cariboo, Kamloops and Southeast fire centre’s yesterday).
So, where does Premier John Horgan come down on all of this?
“We’re going to wait for the investigations to be completed before we pass judgment,” says Horgan.
But he notes people must be held responsible for their actions.
“I’ve said that as opposition leader and I say that as premier, if people are stupid enough to put whole communities and people’s lives at risk, because of their recklessness, there needs to be consequences and we’ll follow through to the fullest extent of the law should there be situations where that’s required.”
As of Aug.1, 2017 wildfires have claimed 305 structures in B.C. including 71 homes this season.