It’s a message that seems to take some time to sink in, but the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen is warning campers and people using the outdoors to exercise extra caution and be prepared to move on short notice.
The threat of wildfire is very real. If you’re planning a camping trip, it’s important to be vigilant about fire safety.
Open burning is prohibited and a campfire ban is in place throughout the Kamloops Fire Centre, which includes the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS). Forest use restrictions are also in place in the vicinity of Placer Lake.
Discarded cigarette butts, campfires, hot exhaust pipes coming into contact with dry grass and vegetation, power tools (such as chainsaws,) Tiki torches and even discarded glass can all ignite a wildfire.
Whether you’re camping close to town or in the backcountry, you need to have a plan in place in case an evacuation alert or order is issued.
Local governments are working with BC Parks, BC Wildfire and campground operators to provide as much notice as possible prior to issuing an evacuation order. When wildfire conditions change suddenly, it may be necessary to leave the area immediately.
That happened in late July and early August, when the RDOS Emergency Operations Centre issued evacuation orders for campgrounds threatened by wildfire. Campers had to leave their tents, trailers, vehicles and camping equipment behind.
Evacuation orders are only issued when there is a potential risk to human safety. Whenever possible, the RDOS proactively communicates with park operators about the potential for an evacuation order to be issued. This is done to ensure a planned exit is possible and to avoid causing panic. At certain times, immediate tactical evacuations occur to ensure public safety.
A tactical evacuation may be issued with a limited warning.
If conditions allow, those affected by an evacuation order may be given access to retrieve vital belongings, but only if authorized by the EOC and incident command.
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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