Despite a provincewide fire ban and an already-busy wildfire season, Kane Blake thinks some people in the Okanagan aren’t getting the message.
This weekend, he spotted three abandoned campfires along Beaver Lake and Postill Lake roads to the northeast of Kelowna.
“It’s just ignorant. We’re in the middle of a huge and what could be one of the worst fire seasons that we’ve had and people are still out and want to have campfires,” he said.
The risk of fires out in the backcountry is so high that he and the cleanup group he founded, the Okanagan Forest Task Force, have had to put a pause on their efforts. With all the hauling they do, Blake said he didn’t want to accidentally start a fire.
But that said, there are many out there who aren’t as careful.
Blake said the fires were decently sized, with the Beaver Lake Road campfire looking like someone was trying to burn pallets, and there was still an open flame when he spotted it.
Based on the location of the fires, Blake thinks whoever set up and had them knew they shouldn’t be having them at all.
“They’re not doing it at the side of the road anymore like they normally would, they’re going to more remote places instead. They’re going 20 kilometres up a road that isn’t easy to get to so they can hide the fact they’re having a fire.”
Unfortunately, however, there were no identifying signs or vehicles to be reported, so Blake said those people won’t be fined.
He said he’s frustrated and angry at what he continually sees in the backcountry.
“We only have one backcountry, we should be trying to preserve it, not light it on fire and trash it.”
Twenty-two violation tickets for campfire ban violations were issued provincewide between July 1 and 4, making for $25,300 in fines issued over that time period.