Open fires remain prohibited in the Southeast Fire Centre. (Photo by Jackson Hendry on Unsplash)

West Kootenay CO says people still lighting fires

The West Kootenay region is tinder dry, had only 9 per cent of normal rainfall in August

B.C. Conservation Officer Blair Thin has heard it all when it comes to people explaining why they lit a fire when open burning is banned.

No excuse will fly, especially this summer, the worst fire season in B.C. history.

“I’ve had people tell me their fire is safe because they’ve been having them for the last 50 years, not that that has anything to do with logic,” he said. “Other people are having smudge fires, or they are burning manure in order to keep the bugs down from the livestock. That might be the honourable thing to do as far as animal husbandry is concerned, but it’s also against the law,” he added.

“It just takes a single spark to light a fire.”

Since July, there’s been an open fire ban in the Southeast Fire Centre. Thin is one of six officers who work for the centre’s wildfire branch to patrol in the evening hours.

Even with all the smoke still present and fires actively burning in the West Kootenay, people are still lighting fires. Just Wednesday night, he dealt with someone who lit a campfire at Rosebud Lake.

“For whatever reason, people believe that the fires they are having are safe fires,” said Thin. “Every evening we’ve been hitting the different zones within the Southeast Fire Centre – which include the Boundary, Arrow Lake and Kootenay Lake fire zones – in order to educate and locate people who are actually breaking the law when it comes to open fires,” he added.

“And we deal with them accordingly, with a $1,000 fine.”

Though temperatures are cooling, there’s been little rain for months and region is tinder dry.

“It’s still fire season out there,” Thin said. “And the bush around us is still burning.”

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