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B.C. lakes closed because boaters are getting in the way of water bombers

An image attached to a tweet by the BC Wildfire Service, about how a number of lakes in the Cariboo region have been closed to keep boats out of the way of aircraft.
An image attached to a tweet by the BC Wildfire Service, about how a number of lakes in the Cariboo region have been closed to keep boats out of the way of aircraft. BC Wildfire Service

The BC Wildfire Service has closed public access to four lakes because boaters have made it difficult for aircraft to swoop down and pick up water so they can help put out the flames.

In a news release issued Friday, the Cariboo Fire Centre announced that it is closing public access to Lac La Hache, Williams Lake, Watson Lake and Horse Lake “effective immediately” because people in boats and other watercraft have been trying to get a “close-up look” at aircraft.

Coverage of B.C. wildfires on Globalnews.ca:

“This behaviour is extremely dangerous and interferes with the BC Wildfire Service’s ability to fight a fire, since a pilot cannot collect water when a boat is in its intended flight path,” it said.

The BC Wildfire Service has thus issued “area restriction orders” for those lakes that will last until Aug. 25, “or until the order is rescinded.”

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The orders mean that no members of the public can use these lakes so they won’t be in the way of aircraft.

“It will be reassessed depending on what the weather brings. But right now there isn’t any precipitation in the forecast any time soon. I would imagine it will be in effect until that time,” says Fire Information Officer Noelle Kekula.

READ MORE: B.C. wildfire status Friday: strong winds expected this weekend could worsen fire conditions

On Thursday morning, Cariboo Regional District (CRD) chair Al Richmond said there had been numerous complaints about boaters using those lakes while aircraft needed them.

“We had particular problems on Horse Lake and Lac La Hache,” he told Global News.

One of the biggest problems is that boaters delayed water bombers being able to circle back.

“You can’t have a half hour between a water bomb,” Richmond said.

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He said many of boats were recreational or fishing vessels.

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