Wildfire misinformation circulating on social media tied up emergency resources unnecessarily.
On Friday, Aug. 13, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) and the Shuswap Emergency Program issued a media release responding to an issue from the day prior. It involved public posts shared over Facebook about an alleged fire in the Tappen-Sunnybrae area, on Bastion Mountain.
There was no fire, and according to the CSRD, this misinformation caused considerable panic among residents and a significant amount of work for emergency responders.
The CSRD said the response to the incident included members of the Tappen-Sunnybrae Fire Department going out on patrol; the diversion of a BC Wildfire helicopter, which had been working on other fire areas, to check for any signs of a new fire start; and time spent by members of the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) team, who tried to determine correct information and ease residents’ fears over the phone.
“The only thing that travels faster than wildfire is rumours. But they can be equally destructive,” commented EOC director Derek Sutherland.
If you believe you have directly witnessed a new fire start, the CSRD advises calling 911 or *5555 on a mobile phone – and not posting second-hand information on social media platforms.
“We encourage all residents to follow reputable sources like the BC Wildfire Service, the CSRD and Shuswap Emergency Programs, local fire department pages and those of other municipalities,” reads the CSRD release.
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