Keywords:Wildfire Act – s. 25; Wildfire Regulation – s. 31; wildfire; cost recovery order; fire suppression costs; consent order
Brian Cecil Parke appealed an order issued in July 2017 by the Fire Centre Manager (the “Manager”), Prince George Fire Centre, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (the “Ministry”).
On April 7, 2012, Mr. Parke lit a burn pile on his property located near Pavilion Lake, BC. He left the fire on April 8. On April 9, he returned to check the fire, which was still smouldering, and then he left the site without extinguishing the fire. He had not cleared a fire guard down to mineral soil around the burn pile.
On May 12, 2012, a wildfire was reported in the vicinity of Pavilion Lake, and firefighters from the Ministry responded. The Ministry firefighters attended the wildfire until June 16, 2012. By the time the wildfire was declared out on September 1, 2012, it was approximately 140 hectares in size.
The Manager determined that the debris pile lit by Mr. Parke was the likely cause of the wildfire. The Manager ordered Mr. Parke to pay the Ministry’s fire suppression costs totalling $921,957.67 under section 25 of the Wildfire Act and section 31 of the Wildfire Regulation.
Mr. Parke appealed the order. Among other things, he submitted that he did not cause the wildfire, he should not have been ordered to pay the full amount of the Ministry’s fire suppression costs, and the Manager’s decision-making process was unfair.
Before the appeal was heard by the Commission, the parties negotiated an agreement to resolve the matter. By consent of the parties, the Commission ordered that the appeal was allowed, and Mr. Parke must pay $500,162.04 for the Ministry’s fire suppression costs.