A group of friends who camped along Harrison Lake last weekend saw first-hand the frustration of dealing with fire ban offenders.
Ryan Loberg spent the weekend on the east side of Harrison Lake last weekend with a few friends. They found a good spot around the 30 km mark and set up camp. But before long, they noticed orange flickering down the beach and went to investigate.
“We confirmed that its’ definitely a campfire and a bunch of people are around it,” Loberg recalls.
Considering the offending group far outnumbered them, they decided against confronting the other campers and instead tried to find someone on the road with a satellite phone so they could report the illegal fire. They ended up driving to a worksite about 16 kilometres up the road, where they were able to call the fire in to the wildfire service hotline.
“We headed back to camp, kept an eye on it and made sure nothing got out of hand,” says Loberg. He figured someone would come out that night. No one showed up that night from the wildfire service to deal with the complaint.
The next day, they were out exploring and came across a fire warden. They flagged him down and told him about the campers, gave him directions and found out later from another group that he had showed up and told the illegal campfire users about the ban.
“We get back to the site and start to make dinner and, sure enough, we see them have a fire again,” Loberg explains.
To make matters worse, the group started shooting fireworks “all over the water, over the forest – kind of wherever they wanted.”
At this point, the friends didn’t know what else they could do. The next morning, they went to the scene in their truck and quickly took photos of the offenders and could see smoke coming off the fire area again. At least three fires plus fireworks and no consequence frustrates Loberg.
“Somebody has to step up and do something,” says Loberg. “Warnings just aren’t enough.”
Loberg posted his experience on a Facebook page dedicated to 4×4 users and got a big response from other members who have had similar experiences.
Marg Drysdale, provincial fire information officer, says there have been “numerous” issues with people in the Fraser Valley continuing to have campfires in spite of the well-advertised fire ban. She says the challenge they face is that their fire wardens can do prevention and education.
“Our fire wardens are out there just to let people know there’s a campfire prohibition,” says Drysdale.
They do not have the ability to ticket offenders. She urges people to call the RAPP (Report All Poachers and Polluters) line instead, at 1-877-952-7277 as they can ticket offenders.