Houseboats and fireworks seen prior to start of Shuswap Lake wildfire - InfoNews

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Houseboats and fireworks seen prior to start of Shuswap Lake wildfire

Smoke can be seen from the wildfire burning just offshore on Shuswap Lake near Marble Point, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK / Bigwater Taxi on Shuswap Lake
August 04, 2020 - 5:00 PM

Eyewitness reports from people along the shoreline of Shuswap Lake say fireworks were being set off at Marble Point and multiple houseboats were docked at the site, prior to the wildfire that started yesterday.

Cabin owner Dusty Basisky said he heard fireworks coming from Marble Point and saw houseboats moored at the site around 11 p.m. Aug. 3, an hour or so before witnessing the large forest fire.

Looking from his cabin on the other side of the lake, he said once the fire started the houseboats in the area all "split." He continued to hear fireworks being set off even once the fire was big and clearly visible. 

He described fireworks being set off "nightly" on the weekends, largely by people partying on rented houseboats.

"The community is very, very pissed (off) right now," Basisky said.

Janine Nixon Kalke told she was camping about one kilometre away from Marble Point and woke up with smoke in her tent. She didn't see the fireworks but heard them going off around the peninsula from where she was camping. She said the fireworks didn't last long but were very loud.

B.C. Wildfire Service reported that the fire started Aug. 3 and is burning Shuswap Lake Marine Provincial Park, Marble Point site, roughly 8.5 kilometres north of Sicamous. Two helicopters, three skimmers and 25 personnel had been deployed to the fire. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

Marble Point is a popular spot for houseboats to dock at and takes around 20 to 30 minutes by boat from Sicamous to get to the water access only site.

"Reports we're seeing on social media from people who were out on the lake last night say there were fireworks going on in the area," District of Sicamous spokesperson Amanda Passmore told

Passmore said so far this year the District hadn't had any issues with fireworks. Passmore said fireworks are prohibited in Sicamous during the summer after a new bylaw was brought in last year.

"We do not support their use because of this exact reason," Passmore said. "A small little thing can turn into a big problem."

Passmore highlighted activity on the lake came under federal jurisdiction and not the District of Sicamous.

Setting off fireworks could end be very costly if it's established that they were the cause of the blaze.

CN Rail was recently ordered to pay a $16.6 million fine after being found responsible for a wildfire which destroyed 2,255 hectares of land near Lytton in 2015. The rail company appealed the penalty but ended up owning $500,000 more after the Forest Appeals Commission recalculated and found the original fine was incorrect.

Correction: This story was updated 3 p.m. Wednesday Aug. 5, 2020. Dusty Basisky heard fireworks coming from Marble Point Aug. 3, not Aug 4 as originally reported. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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