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Increased wildfire fines now in effect

Planning a campfire or bonfire this weekend? Thinking of doing some backyard burning?

You’ll want to make sure you’re obeying the Wildfire Act as increased fines for violations go into effect today.

The Ministry of Forests is getting serious about wildfire prevention by taking a tougher stance on behaviours that increase wildfire risks.

Minister of Forests Steve Thomson says the beefed up fines are needed to ensure everyone takes wildfire prevention seriously.

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“The real message is act responsibly. Be careful out there in the back-country. Be careful of your backyard burning and your recreation and if you don’t comply with those regulations and notices when they’re in place, the level of fines are going to increase significantly.”

This includes tripled the fines for disobeying fire restrictions. What used to costs offenders $345 will now result in a hefty $1,150 fine.

And smokers will want to ensure they’re butting out properly – failing to completely extinguish a burning object, such as a cigarette, can cost you $545.

Thomson says wildfires caused by people are still all too common.

“As we know, 40% of fires are caused by humans and we need to take all the steps that we can and to ensure that we can focus our wildfire suppression efforts on wildfires that are weather-caused, not human-caused.”

All told, more than 25 violations of the Wildfire Act and Regulations have seen their fines increase.

The Prince George Fire Centre’s information officer, Amanda Reynolds, says wildfire prevention is everyone’s responsibility.

“We just want to encourage everyone to do the right thing this fire season by learning more about responsible fire use and making sure they follow the rules.”

And while low levels of snowpack and recent record-breaking temperatures could mean we’re in for an intense fire season, Reynolds says it’s too soon to say for sure.

“Predicting the severity of the upcoming fire season at this stage is still difficult to do. While long-term weather models may indicate trends over time, they cannot reliably forecast more than a few days in advance.”

Last year’s fire season was one of the worst in recent memory, forcing the province to spend $238 million on fighting fires while more than 280,000 hectares of forest burned.

You can brush up on your knowledge of the Wildfire Act here.

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