Regional forest fire situation improving, but likely to worsen again over weekend

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The province wide wildfire situation has marginally improved over the past few days, and with local Environment Canada rainfall estimates for last night and today, totalling from 15 to 25 millimetres, it could improve some more in this region.

However, Fire Information Officer Navi Saini says any weather reprieve for B-C fire-fighters is likely to be short term.

“Saturday we do expect a strong ridge to build back up over the province resulting in high temperatures and drier conditions,” she said.

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At last word, the open fire ban was still in place here in the Prince George Fire Centre and in the Fort Nelson region in particular, the fire danger rating remained high.

Also at last report, the fire-fighting bill was approaching $120 million, and about one third of the close to 1,100 fires this fiscal year had been human caused.

That has again caught the attention of Forests Minister Steve Thomson, who has asked Prince George Mackenzie MLA Mike Morris to conduct a review of the existing regime of fines and penalties for those who ignore fire dangers.

“There are some who suggest that you can’t legislate against stupidity but if exploring the idea of increasing fines or acting on ideas that mean more people will get the message, I think we should be more prepared to look at it,” Thomson said.

“If you’ve got a witness that takes a licence number down for example or personally observes somebody throwing a cigarette out the window, that should stand the test of a trial,” Morris said.

Morris was also asked about the penalty options under consideration.

“Should we be banning those who break fire bans from attending our provincial parks? Should we look at the larger fines up to, and including possibly the impoundments of vehicles for those who flick lit cigarette buts out of their windows?” he added.

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