Not just illegal dumping: This Kelowna group is now dousing fires | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Not just illegal dumping: This Kelowna group is now dousing fires

One of the abandoned fires put out recently by members of the Okanagan Forest Task Force.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Okanagan Forest Task Force
August 31, 2020 - 5:15 PM

Sensitive to how dry Okanagan forests are these days, the Okanagan Forest Task Force is taking a break from hauling illegally dumped garbage out of nearby forests to concentrate on campfires.

They’ve loaded water tanks into their trucks and headed out for night patrols, chatting with campers and partiers while they’re still there, dousing abandoned fires and calling the police if necessary.

“We’ll pull in and say hi and please put out your fire and we’ll let them know we’re putting out a lot of unattended campfires,” task force spokesman Kane Blake told “We talk to them very politely because we’re not the police and we’re not the fire department.”

They will ask the partiers to knock their fires down if they’re too big and ask them to enjoy their party but to extinguish their fire and take their garbage with them.

By keeping a calm, polite manner, most of the partiers are friendly and cooperative and, in most cases, will do as they are asked – but not always.

Then there are the fires the task force members come upon that are burning with hot embers that flare up in the wind.

Task force members, over the past few years, have hauled tonnes of garbage out of the forests along places like Postill Lake Road, Beaver Lake Road and Gillard Creek Forest Service Road.

READ MORE: Almost 25,000 pounds of junk was hauled from Okanagan forests last weekend

They’ve stopped doing that for the rest of this fire season.

“We don’t want to risk having a forest fire started by us pulling garbage out of the bush,” Blake said.

But, he wants people to know that task force members are still out there, keeping an eye on the forests.

“Our main thing is, with the long weekend coming up, we know it’s going to be busy and we just would like people to put out their campfires and clean up their garbage when they’re finished partying,” he said. “This is our backyard and we all like to enjoy it, you know, sitting on our decks and looking at the mountains, not burning.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 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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