Drones, boats slow down B.C.'s wildfire fighting crews over the weekend
Anyone caught operating a drone near fire control could face $100,000 fine or up to one year in jail
British Columbia's wildfire service is once again issuing a plea for people to stop flying drones near wildfires to avoid crews having to stop their work.
The service has had to ground its crews at two wildfires over the weekend — the Kimbol Lake wildfire near Nakusp on Saturday and the Becker Lake wildfire near Vernon the same day.
"If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft, the consequences could be deadly," the service said Saturday on Twitter.
The B.C. government toughened up its laws prohibiting the operation of drones near wildfires in 2016. Anyone caught flying one near a wildfire could be fined up to $100,000, be jailed for up to a year, or both.
The restricted airspace includes a radius of five nautical miles around the fire and an altitude of 3,000 feet above ground level.
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BCWildfire?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BCWildfire</a> Service staff were forced to temporarily halt air operations on the Kimbol Lake wildfire (N51734) on Saturday, July 10, 2021, due to people operating unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or "drones") near the fire. For more information: <a href="https://t.co/Y7zOUiT8cW">https://t.co/Y7zOUiT8cW</a>. <a href="https://t.co/8Kv6QRqVyT">pic.twitter.com/8Kv6QRqVyT</a>—@BCGovFireInfo
Boaters impede work Sunday
It's not just airways that are posing problems for the wildfire service. On Sunday, crews were affected by boaters on Kalamalka Lake near the Becker Lake wildfire close to Vernon.
The service said the boaters impacted the work of air tankers picking up water on the north end of the lake.
"This is dangerous both to people on the boat and to our personnel, and interferes with critical firefighting operations," the wildfire service said on Twitter.
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BCWildfire?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BCWildfire</a> Service airtankers are currently picking up water on the north end of Kalamalka Lake in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ColdstreamBC?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ColdstreamBC</a>, for the Becker Lake wildfire (K41727). Operations are being impacted by boaters interfering with firefighting aircraft. This is dangerous... <a href="https://t.co/wVlTBj67Ju">pic.twitter.com/wVlTBj67Ju</a>—@BCGovFireInfo