Anahim Lake, BC: Two hikers who ignored BC Park closures had to be rescued after putting out a Satellite Positioning and Tracking (SPOT) distress signal.
On July 25, 2017, at 1:30 p.m., Anahim Lake RCMP were notified of a SPOT activation in Tweedsmuir Park (South) on the north side of highway 20, at Tanya Lakes near the “Alexander Mackenzie Grease Trail”. This area is currently closed due to extreme wildfire hazard.
At approximately 4:10 p.m. the hikers were successfully located and extracted by helicopter with the assistance of the BC Wildfire Service and the BC Parks staff. Upon rescue, BC Parks and Wildfire Service staff had to finish extinguishing a campfire that the two hikers were using during the previous evening. The hikers said they were aware of the current restrictions and were also aware of the wildfire situation within the province. BC Parks staff issued two fines totaling $1,233.00 for accessing the park while being closed and lighting a fire during a fire ban.
It is fortunate for the hikers that their campfire did not create an additional wildfire within Tweedsmuir Park (South) says BC Parks Area Supervisor Steven Hodgson. Had the hikers campfire created a wildfire within the Park, BC Parks would have had the potential to issue penalties directly under the Park Act, where fines can reach as high as $1,000,000.
There is currently one active wildfire within Tweedsmuir Park (South) that has prompted an evacuation order for several homesteads along its eastern border.
“We urge the public to respect all bans and restrictions” says S/Sgt. Annie Linteau, Senior Media Relations Officer. “It is unfortunate that these hiker’s blatant disregard of park closures, resulted in the diversion of valuable resources and assets which would have otherwise been used in fire suppression efforts”.
People who cause wildfires could be found liable for wildfire suppression costs, damage to Crown forests and other forest or land resources, and reforestation costs. If they are convicted in court, they could be fined up to $100,000 and up to one year in jail.