- OES students tackle schoolyard dog poop problemPosted 2 days ago
- GMO foods dangerous, pervasive, former federal scientists tell forumPosted 2 days ago
- Former Stockwell Day assistant Neufeld will seek federal Conservative nominationPosted 2 days ago
- Christmas Lite-Up events feature Santa Parade and entertainmentPosted 2 days ago
- Vancouver pharmaceutical company applies for license to operate commercial medical pot facility in OsoyoosPosted 2 days ago
- School support staff prepared to walk picket lines starting Tuesday morningPosted 1 week ago
- Osoyoos stores open, close, move, change handsPosted 1 week ago
- Travel writer names Okanagan as world’s top wine destinationPosted 1 week ago
- Local leaders respond with caution to possible changes to modernize Agricultural Land CommissionPosted 1 week ago
Wildfire threatened local homes forcing evacuations
Provincial firefighters battled a human-caused wildfire Monday evening near Spotted Lake that threatened homes as it spread over an estimated 20 hectares.
With gusting winds, the flames spread quickly, forcing the evacuation of a number of homes. The fire was brought under control later that evening and residents were allowed to return to their homes.
As tanker planes dropped red fire retardant on a narrow strip of land separating the advancing fire from a yellow southwest-style house, horses were seen running in fear around a field below.
The provincial Wildfire Management Branch says 35 firefighters, two helicopters and five air tankers were used in the effort.
RCMP officers assisted in the evacuation.
Rick Jones, Osoyoos fire chief, said his men were hired to bring a truck and help protect some of the homes in the area, but they weren’t actively involved in combatting the blaze. This area is outside the area the Osoyoos Fire Department is responsible for.
The Wildfire Management Branch believes the fire was human caused, but the specific cause remains under investigation.
Meanwhile, as dry conditions continue throughout the region, and firefighters battle other wildfires caused by lightning, provincial officials are expressing concern about people violating the current ban on campfires.
On the first two weekends in August, seven violation tickets and 11 warnings were issued by conservation officers throughout the Kamloops Fire Centre’s area, which includes Osoyoos.
A campfire ban was imposed Aug. 1 until further notice due to hazardous dry conditions.
Penalties can be severe.
A violation ticket of $345 is issued for all people in attendance at a campfire, and a ticket of $230 is issued for all people participating in lighting fireworks.
Officials can also prosecute, which could result in a fine up to $100,000 and/or a year imprisonment. If campfires or fireworks cause a wildfire, penalties could reach a $1 million fine and three years in prison plus payment of fire suppression costs.
A spokesperson for Kamloops Fire Centre said that in addition to the cases involving tickets and warnings, a number of abandoned campfires have also been found.
“People are still lighting fires despite the campfire ban going into place,” said Kayla Pepper, fire information officer. “We’ve also received a number of calls from the general public of people reporting seeing campfires burning.”
Those seeing campfires burning illegally should call *5555 on a cellular phone to report them, or call toll free to 1-800-663-5555.
Pepper also advises that people should record such information as license plates of those seen with fires.
A number of fires were caused by lightning strikes especially during the storm of Aug. 10, including fires in this area at Mica Creek, Anarchist Mountain and another fire near Spotted Lake. Those fires have since been extinguished.
Throughout the Kamloops Fire Centre region, firefighters were responding to 153 wildfires last week of which 11 were caused by people.
This year there have been 400 fires in the region, just surpassing the 10-year average of 396, Pepper said.
While the ban on larger fires is determined according to fixed dates, the campfire ban is determined by weather conditions, fire risk in the area and human behaviour, Pepper said. It is normal that there is a campfire ban most years, but the dates fluctuate with conditions, she added.
For the ban to be lifted, several conditions need to change.
There must be sustained precipitation that actually penetrates the soil. Rain for a couple hours often isn’t enough, she said.
Cooler temperatures also lower the risk.
Fire Centre officials are concerned that human-caused fires draw valuable resources away from fighting fires caused by lightning and other natural causes.