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Tolko given right to appeal wildfire fine

CANADA (From news reports) -- The B.C. Court of Appeal says Vernon-based Tolko Industries can appeal a decision that imposed a significant fine for causing a wildfire.

The Forest Appeals Commission issued a $343,495 penalty for a fire sparked in logging debris left by the company near Nazko in central B.C.

The fine amount represents the province's costs of fire control and the source of the fire was a holdover fire from Tolko's debris burn.

Justice Susan Griffin's ruling said there are substantial issues to consider in the appeal -- including whether debris burning is appropriately explained in laws related to wildfires.

She added Tolko's arguments are significant and a decision could have broader significance for the forest industry beyond the company's case.

"I conclude that the balance weighs in favour of granting Tolko leave to bring an appeal from the chambers decision, focused on the correct statutory interpretation of section 29 of the [Wildlife] Regulation. I therefore grant Tolko's application," wrote the justice.

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