Have you ever been at a forest recreation site enjoying a weekend of cooking on a camp stove and you see your neighbour has a fire going despite the province-wide fire ban?
If you’re comfortable, the first thing you should do is approach them and make sure they know that there is a fire ban, said Paula MacKay of the BC Wildfire Service.
“Often you don’t feel comfortable doing that, so obviously personal safety is top priority,” she said.
If that is the case, BC Wildfire Service still wants to know about the fire. So take a photo of what’s happening, write down the location and the licence plates of the vehicles and report it when you get back.
“We track the number of complaints,” MacKay said. “If it is a known area that has a high frequency of campers out there we will send patrols out.”
If there is a campground host, talking to them could also be helpful. MacKay said they often have other means of communicating besides a cell phone so they may be able to report a fire.
But what should you do if that fire spreads?
“We ask folks to respond appropriately,” MacKay said. “If it is within your capability and it is a small grass fire we have no problems with folks trying to put it out if they feel they can.”
Even if the fire is put out quickly, MacKay said it would still be a good idea to report it to the Wildfire Centre so they can check to make sure it is out and so that they know that the area is used recreationally and should be monitored.
However, safety is the top priority, so if you can’t put it out, get out of there and call in the fire as soon as you can, MacKay said.
“We’re asking folks to be situationally aware and know what they are getting into,” she added. “You would probably have a plan if you are going out to an unsupervised area what you would do if you had an injury, we would also ask folks to consider what they would do if they were going into an area with a high fire danger.”