RCMP closed some launches in Penticton after boaters interfered with skimmer aircraft | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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RCMP closed some launches in Penticton after boaters interfered with skimmer aircraft

Water bombers attacking the Skaha Creek wildfire south of Penticton didn’t always get as much breathing room as they wanted while filling up on the surface of Okanagan Lake.
Image Credit: SUMBITTED/Shaun Siëbs

Access to Okanagan Lake was partially restricted to boaters yesterday to help pilots with B.C. Wildfire Service filling the tanks on their water bombers.

The RCMP closed the Penticton Yacht Club's boat launches after a few near mishaps between boats and personal watercraft and skimmer planes, the yacht club said in a press release issued yesterday, Aug. 30. Members were still able to access the lake and were asked to stay on the east side of the lake, opposite to where the skimmers were landing. 

The Skaha Creek wildfire, which is still burning just a few kilometres outside of Penticton, was especially active on the afternoons of Sunday and Monday.

Several aircraft were deployed, and during the daylight hours, as they relentlessly attacked the fire by dousing it with water and retardant.

For the water bombers filling their tanks with water from Okanagan Lake, the pilots appreciate a clear opening when they descend for the surface of the lake – but that wasn’t every time.

READ MORE: Coldstream closes boat launches after boaters interrupt air tankers

The protocol for boaters on the lake at the same time as water bombers is obvious, said Jordan McCallum, owner of Penticton Boat Club and Rentals.

“Just stay out of their way,” McCallum said. “Stay on the other half of the lake.”

It’s easy for watercraft operators to anticipate where the planes want to collect the water from, he said, so keep clear of that space.

“Give them the right of way," he said.

The vast majority of boaters are smart people who know how to share the lake in a responsible manner, he said, but a few wrecked it for the many.

READ MORE: B.C. firefighters repeatedly impeded by recreational boaters on Okanagan Lake

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