Fire crews racing to contain a forest fire on the east side of Harrison Lake last Sunday had a disturbing find along their way: an unattended campfire.
More than 80 firefighters had been deployed to battle the wildfire 30 kilometres north of the Harrison Hot Springs.
By Monday morning it was 150 hectares in size and only five per cent contained.
It was one of several fires sparked over the Canada Day long weekend. And like most, it’s believed to be human caused.
This region is no stranger to those kinds of fires. Two years ago a major blaze on the west side of Harrison Lake forced the evacuation of campgrounds and recreational areas. Last year a fire in the Chilliwack River Valley worried residents nearby as they watched airtankers and helicopters buzz overhead.
Both those fires were human caused, meaning they were entirely preventable.
But more, they were an enormous waste of resources – time, effort and money spent fighting something that should never have occurred.
Heading to the backcountry is a fantastic way to spend the summer. But just as we pack out whatever we bring in, we need to remember how volatile the forest can be, especially when the wind blows and temperatures soar.
Campfires and cigarettes are the obvious concerns. But even a hot exhaust pipe from an offroad vehicle, or discharged shell casings can spark a blaze.
The backcountry is a place all of us can enjoy, but a moment’s carelessness can ruin it for a generation.