Unattended campfire in Shuswap’s Fly Hills sparks concern

Resident frustrated to find logs left smouldering and aflame in recreation area

A still burning unattended campfire in the Fly Hills caused some unexpected stress during an early morning walk.

Holly Raczynski said she was in the hills walking her dog Tuesday morning, April 14, when she came across the fire’s remains – smouldering logs, some still aflame, in an open grassy area surrounded by vegetation.

“I walk my dog up there all the time, I always see that same spot… half a kilometre up from the parking lot,” said Raczyinski. “Today I go up and I’m like, ‘holy… there’s flames on this.’”

Raczynski began to put out the fire, using up what water she had before dumping her coffee on it, then using her coffee cup to bring water over from a nearby stream, dousing the blaze one cup at a time.

“I don’t think they made an attempt to put it out and there’s a creek running, like, 20 steps away,” said Raczynski of those responsible for the fire. “Even if they didn’t haul water to put their fire out, like, fill up your beer cans that you left laying around there and use that to transport water.”

Raczynski took a video of the found fire and shared it with the Shuswap Crime Watch page on Facebook. She also contacted the Salmon Arm Fire Department and the BC Wildfire Service. She described the fire area as being more than a metre wide.

“I made it a little bit messier because I kicked it around to make sure it was totally out,” said Raczynski, adding the ground in the area of the fire felt hot enough to melt the soles of her boots.

In response to health concerns related to COVID-19, the B.C. government has banned all open burns in the province. Campfires are still allowed but can be no larger than half a metre high and half a metre wide. Campfires must also be in a proper fire pit or rock enclosure, at least three metres from trees, shrubs, structures and debris, and must be completely extinguished before you go to sleep or leave the area for any period of time.

Read more: Residents fume over abandoned campfires in Fly Hills

Read more: Video: Wildfire near Chase being held by fire crews

With provincial parks and regional recreation sites already shut down in response to the virus, Raczynski doesn’t want to see more outdoor opportunities closed off due to human recklessness.

“For me it’s stressing…,” said Raczynski. “A few people still enjoy getting out of their house and being able to go walk in the woods and on walks that are socially distant and safe from everyone else. And it’s fire season, so come on, we’ve got enough problems going on right now, we don’t need to be starting fires on top of it.”

Illegal open burns can be reported to the BC RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277.

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