B.C. fire officials concerned with 'spike' in illegal campfires

Fire officials say they're concerned with a recent surge in illegal campfires along British Columbia's coast, as hundreds of wildfires continue to burn in the province.

The Coastal Fire Centre says it's seeing a "large spike" in illegal campfires in the region, which includes Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, the Sunshine Coast, Haida Gwaii and areas of the Lower Mainland.

"Because we haven't had rain for so long, the B.C. Conservation Officer Service has increased the number of officers that are patrolling for illegal campfires," said Matt Bell with the Coastal Fire Centre on Tuesday.

"When they do find illegal campfires, conservations officers are immediately issuing fines of $1,150," he said.

Bell added that conservation officers are surprised at how many illegal campfires they are finding, particularly because the province is under a state of emergency due to wildfires burning in the Interior, and because a province-wide campfire ban has been in place since June 28.

"We're definitely seeing a large number than should be expected given the amount of drying that has occurred," he said.

Fire officials are stressing the importance of fire safety, especially in the coastal region, which has been relatively unscathed by this year's wildfire season.

Bell says that additional resources can be deployed from the coastal region to active wildfires in the Interior, but not if wildfires start appearing on the coast.

"It's really something we need to nail down and need to make sure everyone's really diligent on as we get into these higher temperatures and even further drier conditions headed to the long weekend," he said.

Environment Canada has posted special weather statements warning of high temperatures on parts of Vancouver Island and for Southern Gulf Islands later this week.