Forests Minister Steve Thomson unveils a new ad campaign to remind people of increased fire regulation fines and enforcement as the May long weekend kicks off camping season.

Fire warning issued for weekend campers

Campfires are still allowed, but larger fires are banned in much of B.C. and fines for breaking fire restrictions have been tripled

No campfire restrictions are in place as B.C. approaches the traditional start of the outdoor recreation season, but a rash of early-season human-caused forest fires has prompted a warning from the B.C. government to take care in the woods.

Forests Minister Steve Thomson says a new advertising campaign begins this week on TV and social media to remind people about increased fines in effect for violating fire restrictions.

The fine for failing to comply with fire restrictions is increased from $345 to $1,150. A new penalty of failing to comply with a stop-work order made because of fire risk will carry a maximum penalty of $100,000 and one year in prison.

While small campfires have not yet been restricted, open fire bans are in effect for the Coastal, Kamloops and Cariboo fire protection regions, covering much of the province. Open fires are defined as waste or slash larger than one half metre square, with smaller fires considered campfires under the regulations.

“This is the time to prune and pile, but not to burn,” Thomson said, and enforcement officers will be out on patrol starting on the Victoria Day long weekend.

Open fire bans also apply to burning barrels and fireworks because of the potential to scatter sparks.