Kamloops Fire Centre officials are concerned about unattended and illegal campfires in the area.

Fire Information Officer Kayla Pepper would like to remind the public that a campfire ban remains in effect for the Merritt and Lillooet fire zones.

In zones not covered by a campfire ban, she said, the public is urged to never leave a campfire unattended until it is fully extinguished.

Fire officials discovered 16 unattended or abandoned campfires and 14 active campfires in areas under a campfire ban last weekend within the Interior and Okanagan, said Pepper in a press release from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

“The discovery of these campfires is very concerning,” said Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson. “Please take heed of campfire bans.”

“Also, temperatures in the Southern Interior are forecasted to climb into the mid-to upper thirties this weekend, so please be extra vigilant while enjoying the back country.”

On the weekend of Aug. 12-14 fire officials educated the public on bans, restrictions and campfire regulations, however, enforcement personnel will begin actively ticketing people found in contravention of the Wildfire Act.

People found burning fires in a prohibited zone could be issued a ticket for $345, or, if convicted in court may be fined up to $100,000 or sentenced to one year in jail.

Fire activity in the region has been below average this year, however the recent hot and dry conditions have increased the fire danger rating and wildfire risk throughout the region.

Officials are becoming particularly concerned about human-caused fires. Since April 1 the ministry reports 180 wildfires within the Kamloops Fire Centre’s boundaries. Of these, 119 were caused by people. Further, officials have responded to 74 campfire related incidents this season which diverts resources from extinguishing natural occurring fires.

Pepper reminds people that fires outside of the Merritt and Lillooet zones must remain under half a metre by half a metre in size.

To report a wildfire or unattended campfire, call *5555 on your cell phone or phone 1-800-663-5555.