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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Hot weather in B.C. sparks reminders that many forest fires can be prevented

VANCOUVER - A return to hot, dry weather has put firefighters in B.C. on high alert for wildfires, but they're also battling to get out the message that many fires can be prevented.

Officials say about half of all forest fires are caused by people who haphazardly toss cigarette butts or leave camp fires without fully extinguishing them.

Mark Smitton, president of the Fire Prevention Officers' Association of B.C., says he believes more public awareness is needed to lower the number human-caused blazes.

Smitton says rainy weather last week may have prompted some people to let their guard down about preventing forest fires, many of which are sparked by lightning.

Fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek says this is one of the busiest fire seasons since 2010 and that 405 of the 711 wildfires since April have been caused by people.

He says 99 fires are currently burning across the province, with the highest danger levels over the next week concentrated in central and northern B.C., as well as the Chilcotin region.

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