Keywords:Wildfire Act – s. 25(2); Administrative Tribunals Act – s. 16; holdover fire; cost recovery order; consent order
In March 2016, Daniel Thibault conducted a grass burn on his property located in Hudson’s Hope, B.C., to reduce the fire risk on the property. The grass fire escaped into a bog under some trees on Mr. Thibault’s property. Mr. Thibault was aware of a smouldering fire in that location, but he thought it posed no risk of spreading further. On April 18, 2016, there were strong winds and dry conditions in the area. That afternoon, a wildfire was discovered in the area and reported to the BC Wildfire Service.
Personnel, aircraft, and heavy equipment from the Wildfire Service responded to the wildfire, which was 272 hectares in size when it was declared out on June 20, 2016. Investigators from the Wildfire Service determined that the wildfire started from a “holdover” grass burn conducted by Mr. Thibault, which had burned into a forested area and smouldered in the duff/peat until high winds occurred on April 18, 2016.
The Manager of the Cariboo Fire Centre determined that Mr. Thibault caused the wildfire and was an owner of the private land on which the wildfire originated. Pursuant to section 25(2) of the Wildfire Act, the Manager ordered Mr. Thibault to pay the government’s fire control costs of $346,534.03.
Mr. Thibault appealed the Manager’s order.
Before the appeal was heard, Mr. Thibault and the Government reached an agreement to resolve the appeal by reducing the amount that he was ordered to pay. By consent of the parties, the Commission ordered Mr. Thibault to pay $308,415.30 for the government’s fire suppression costs.