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Should residents use lakes during wildfire season?

If residents see aircraft on local lakes, stay clear for the safety of the pilots
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This photo was taken by Burns Lake resident Dennis Pangerl. The chopper is filling up with water as they are out fighting the Parrot Lookout fire located at Colleymount. As of the July 13 update by BC Wildfire the fire size is 4200 hectares. (Submitted photo/Lakes District News)

Summer season is peak time for wildfires. Lakes are an asset for fighting against wildfire and fire crews exponentially use nearby lakes to refill their heavy equipment water tanks. This season is also peak time for fun outdoor activities like boating, swimming, paddle-boarding, fishing, kayaking, and many more for local residents of Burns Lake community.

Fire Information Officer Casda Thomas said, “We don’t have any restrictions on any lakes right now. For example, with the Powers Creek wildfire near Smithers and the skimmers were using the tiny lake. We did put out some messaging reminding people to stay clear of the tankers and some folks were patrolling the area to make sure the area stayed clear and safe.”

She says, in general fire fighting aviation fleet consists of retardants, land based air tankers, helicopters or skimmers. Basically, the air tankers will land at the Smithers airport and fill-up the retardants and fly back. The skimmers will collect water from a suitable nearby lakes which is within the vicinity of the wildfire. Same thing with the helicopters, they will find a suitable water source, usually a lake to bucket from.

She also says, “If you do see a helicopter bucketing out or skimmers refilling from a lake, we would ask that you stay clear for the safety of the pilots and all of the public. therefore, if you see any of the activities going, then yes please stay away.”

Burns Lake Councillor Charlie Rensby made a recent facebook post about the residents using lakes for recreation during wildfire situations when firemen and aerial fire fighting crews are continuously using lakes to refill their water tanks for fighting against the fire.

He states, “In natural disaster situations people get short on patience. Often people will blow up over things that normally wouldn’t phase them, or take out anxieties on each other, especially if they feel someone else’s actions could affect their outcome. Don’t be like this person, keep off the lake and away from aircraft, or you might end up becoming public enemy number one.”

If residents see aircraft on local lakes you should stay clear for the safety of the pilots and all of the public.