Drones force Keremeos Creek wildfire crews to halt operations

Click to play video: 'Unauthorized drones shut down fire operations'
Unauthorized drones shut down fire operations
Unauthorized drones shut down fire operations – Aug 30, 2022

The Keremeos Creek wildfire, burning southwest of Penticton, B.C., is significantly smaller than it was at the beginning of the month.

The wildfire is classified as being held and currently estimated at approximately 7,000 hectares in size.

“Earlier in the fire, a few weeks ago, we were seeing more aggressive fire behaviour, what we consider rank five, six,” said BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) fire information officer Aydan Coray.

“Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been seeing lower fire activity, slower to moderate rates of spread, lower amounts of flame visible. There’s still smoke that’s going to be visible while we see low fire activity.”

According to BCWS, in more active areas fire crews are using a combination of direct attack, wet lining, and patrol to extinguish or remove any remaining fuels within the fire’s perimeter.

Story continues below advertisement

Read more: Keremeos Creek wildfire now held, 28 days after ignition

Currently, 78 firefighters are assigned to the fire with support from three helicopters.

However, BCWS said they had to temporarily halt aerial operations on Monday due to unauthorized drones in the area.

“The presence of drones on the wildfire resulted in a complete shutdown of our aerial firefighting resources for about two hours due to safety concerns,” said Coray.

BC Wildfire says this kind of activity is extremely dangerous and puts crews at serious risk.

“If there was a collision with the drone, it could be deadly. So, there is a zero-tolerance policy for drones on active wildfire areas. In the interest of aircrew and public safety, please keep drones well away from active wildfires,” said Coray.

“Anyone operating a drone that interferes with wildfire operations could be fined up to $100,000 or jailed for up to one year or both.”

Click to play video: 'Why is B.C. not yet accessing night vision technology to fight wildfires?'
Why is B.C. not yet accessing night vision technology to fight wildfires?

Meanwhile, over the next five days, operations will be downsized as fire activity continues to decrease.

Story continues below advertisement

“By next week, the camp will get it and Oliver will be demobilized and resource numbers including our ground personnel and helicopters will be reduced,” said Coray.

“We will have resources on standby as needed. But for now, they will be looking at a reduction for next week.”

Although summer is coming to an end, BCWS said fire season is not over yet and are asking the public to stay vigilant and report any suspected wildfires.

Click to play video: 'Olalla residents forced to flee home due to wildfire'
Olalla residents forced to flee home due to wildfire

Sponsored content