Parks and recreation areas throughout the Cariboo have been closed due to wildfires but that didn’t stop a pair of hikers from getting stranded in the southern part of Tweedsmuir Park.
RCMP Senior Media Relations Officer Sergeant Annie Linteau says BC Parks and Wildfire Service staff received a Satellite Positioning and Tracking (SPOT) distress signal at about 1:30 pm on July 25. The signal was sent from the north side of Highway 20, at Tanya Lakes near the Alexander Mackenzie Grease Trail.
“This particular area is closed due to extreme wildfire hazard,” Linteau says. “However, we managed to rescue hikers who had become stranded in that area. They were extracted by helicopter.”
Turns out the park closure wasn’t the only warning the hikers ignored.
“BC Parks and Wildfire Service staff had to finish extinguishing a campfire that the two hikers were using during the previous evening. These hikers said that they were aware of the current restrictions and were also aware of the wildfire situation within the province.”
They were issued a total of $1,233 in fines for accessing a closed park and lighting a fire during a fire ban.
“It’s really unfortunate that these hikers’ blatant disregard park closure resulted in the diversion of valuable resources and assets, which would have otherwise been used in fire suppression efforts,” Linteau says, adding that provincial fire bans and park closures apply to everyone and need to be respected. The situation could have escalated quickly.
“People who cause wildfires could be found liable for wildfire suppression costs, damage to Crown forest and other forest or land resources and reforestation costs,” says Linteau. “If they are convicted in court, they could be fined up to $100,000 and up to one year in jail.”
The provincial fire ban remains in effect and many provincial parks and recreation sites are still closed. You can find an updated list here.