UPDATE: Fire fight near Vernon hampered by boaters 'interfering with firefighting aircraft' | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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UPDATE: Fire fight near Vernon hampered by boaters 'interfering with firefighting aircraft'

The Becker Lake wildfire east of Vernon, July 10, 2021.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Pamela Lewis
July 11, 2021 - 10:29 AM

The effort to put out the Becker Lake fire near Vernon is once again being challenged by people in the area.

"BCWildfire Service air tankers are currently picking up water on the north end of Kalamalka Lake in Coldstream, for the Becker Lake wildfire," reads an update sent out July 11.

"Operations are being impacted by boaters interfering with firefighting aircraft. This is dangerous both to people on the boat and to our personnel and interferes with critical firefighting operations. Please stay away from active wildfire sites whether on the ground, in the air, or on the water."

RCMP followed up shortly thereafter with an order to get away from the north end of Kalamalka Lake.

"To allow the aircraft to operate safely, the public and all watercraft are required to move out of the area immediately and avoid the north end of Kalamalka Lake until further notice," Const. Chris Terleski said. "The Vernon North Okanagan RCMP, Vernon Search and Rescue, and BC Conservation Officers will be out on the water to ensure compliance.  Anyone who is found interfering with wildfire operations could face a hefty fine, or even jail time."

The Becker Lake fire grew to 35 hectares yesterday,  with drone interference on that day forcing air support to stand down for two hours.

“The good news is there was no overnight growth,” Noelle Kekula, fire information officer with BC Wildfire said.

“The drone yesterday was a particularly frustrating setback. We were working it hard yesterday with air support but when a drone is spotted we have to ground air support instantly. It was grounded for two hours and that was in a critical time in the firefighting efforts.”

They were ramping up the effort today with more crews, both in the land and air.

That said, there are areas in the line of fire and an Evacuation Alert has been issued by District of Coldstream and the RDNO Electoral Area C at a Collaborated Emergency Operations Centre.

The areas in the evacuation alert zone are   Ravine Dr., Ranchland Pl., Cypress Dr., Ridgemont Dr., Rockland Dr. Upland Dr.,Upper Crestview, Fairmont Pl. Crestview Dr.,Jeffrey Dr., Scenic Dr. Auburn Ct., Hymar Pl., North Side Buchanan Rd. (8600blk- 9800blk), Midland Pl., Nickle Rd., Upland Hts.   Also Robin Rd., Galiano (715-1294), Boss Ck Rd. (3965- onwards), French Rd., Greenwood Rd., South Side Hartnell RD., Kingsview Rd., Lynx Dr.

An Evacuation Alert has been issued to prepare people to evacuate their premises or property should it be found necessary. Residents will be given as much advance notice as possible prior to evacuation.

The fire, which is roughly three to five kilometres east of Vernon in the Becker Lake area, is still considered out of control. It was spotted at around 1 p.m. July 10.



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