Human Caused Wildfires Up Despite Larger Fines
Prince George, B.C. – They were billed as a way to hopefully prevent wildfires but in 2016 they didn’t have the desired effect in the Prince George Fire Centre.
Starting April 1st, 2016, the provincial government increased fines for a variety of wildfire-related violation tickets.
For example, those caught contravening specified open burning and campfire regulations faced fines more than three times higher than last year’s penalties.
The B.C. government said the fines were their way of “taking a tougher stand on irresponsible behaviour that contributes to increased wildfire risks.”
Yet despite the change the number of human-caused wildfires still increased.
“Up to September 2nd, 2016, we’ve had 153 human-caused fires (the season started April 1st, 2016) compared to 92 lightning-caused fires,” says fire information officer Amanda Reynolds. “And the 10-year average is 113 human-caused fires and 187 lightning-caused.”
She says the increase in human-caused fires is “disappointing” but attributes it to a wind event on April 18th when 45 human-caused fires were sparked in one day up in the Fort St. John Fire Zone.
“We didn’t have any wildfires start from campfires. They were all Category 2 burns.”
(Category 2 burns are fires that burn material in piles smaller than two metres high and three metres wide).
Reynolds also shared these additional numbers:
- In 2016 the PG Fire Centre has responded to 245 fires which has burned 91,765 hectares (Sept 2).
- That is below the 10-year average of 300 fires but above the 10-year average of 60,863 hectares burnt (Sept 2).
- In 2016, the PG Fire Centre has spent $24.3 million, which is above the 10-year average of $16.6 million. (Sept 2)
- From April 1, 2016 to August 31, the BC Wildfire Service responded to 988 wildfires province-wide, 466 of which were caused by people.
She says the bulks of the fire activity in the Prince George Fire Centre took place in the Peace region with the Halfway, Beatton Road and Siphon Creek fires mostly to blame.
“When we had all those fires April 18th, we all expected it was going to be a crazy year. But we were still busier than other fire centres. Roughly 91,765 of the 99,000 plus hectares burnt happened in our fire centre.”