The creators of a fiery scene that sparked public outcry will not face charges.
A controversial episode of Red Bull TV’s ‘Who is JOB’ internet-based video series, starring professional Hawaiian surfer Jamie O’Brien, was filmed near Tofino and Ucluelet and included a scene where a log was set on fire in what was believed to be Kennedy Lake.
The video was posted to Red Bull’s website on Aug. 20 and immediately sparked criticism from locals outraged at the apparent use of petroleum products to accelerate the blaze.
Red Bull removed the video on Aug. 29 and apologized to B.C. Parks for filming without a permit.
The B.C. Conservation Officer Service investigated but will not press charges, according to Sergeant Ben York of the CO’s Central Island Zone.
York told the Westerly News on Monday that the investigation has concluded and there was no evidence to suggest the incident caused significant environmental impacts.
“For something that has this kind of public profile, of course we’re going to have a look and see whether or not there was actually any damage to the environment,” York said.
“There wasn’t any residue in the lake. There wasn’t any proof that it occurred inside a Park, which would have some stronger levels of protection. Basically, there’s no indication that it damaged any kind of freshwater or fisheries resource…And, the quantity of accelerant used was not sufficient to trigger any kind of spill reporting or cleanup requirements.”
He said the exact location of the log was not clear and suggested the amount of petroleum likely used to set it on fire was minimal.
“We never identified the exact area, other than to get some confirmation that it wasn’t within a Park,” he said.
“We checked everywhere we could take a look, looking for any kind of fuel residue but, honestly, if you want to see some fuel residue that’s far more significant, you could just go down to your local harbour…This kind of quantity of petrol-chemicals ends up in the water regularly. They probably, at most, put a couple of cup-fulls of gasoline on that [log].”
He does not believe the absence of charges against Red Bull will lead to similar incidents in the future.
“The company itself seemed very embarrassed by the incident and pulled [the video] as quickly as they could,” he said. “I don’t think we’re going to see that this is something that people want to do a lot of.”
York acknowledged the public outcry over the video but said the CO cannot press charges based on public opinion alone.
“The law is the law,” he said. “If there’s not sufficient evidence to prosecute somebody, we’re not going to go on a witch hunt or make things up. If somebody in the local community was facing similar scrutiny, they probably would want to have that same level of fairness applied to them.”
He added no evidence was found to suggest the filming occurred during a fire ban.
While this specific investigation did not lead to charges, York commended the locals who reported the video to the CO and encouraged West Coasters to continue reporting any suspicious activity to the CO at 1-877-952-7277.
“There is quite a lot of land base in British Columbia so the more eyes we have looking for us the better,” he said.