Flames were visible on Green Mountain on Saturday evening after a controlled burn on the Penticton Indian Band apparently got out of control. Photo courtesy Chris Ostrander/Facebook

Concern over open burning in the South Okanagan

Where there’s smoke, there is firefighters

Columns of smoke rising above the Penticton Indian Band caused a spate of calls to both the Penticton and PIB fire departments.

“We receive a lot of calls on it because it is visible and significant. When the night fire happened there were a lot of people calling in,” said Larry Watkinson, Penticton fire chief.

The night fire he is referring to was a Saturday burn that appeared to be getting out of control and spreading to the trees. It was highly visible across the valley and became a major discussion on Facebook as area residents watched it grow then disappear.

“Really, it is a good time of the year to be doing this kind of burning,” said Watkinson. “They are burning off fuels that could support a rapidly developing fire in the summertime.”

Related: Prescribed burns to close Penticton channel path

Watkinson said the burning is pretty much an annual event on the PIB. But since much of it occurs on locatee (privately-owned) lands within the neighbouring community, the mutual aid agreement with the PIB fire department isn’t activated.

If a fire appears to be threatening homes Watkinson said they can respond, but otherwise it is the responsibility of PIB fire.

Related: Penticton Indian Band hosts firefighting competition

“We are still working with the Penticton Indian Band to organize a new automatic aid agreement with them, so we don’t have any jurisdiction issues,” said Watkinson, adding that there is a contract in place specifying certain areas on PIB land that Penticton Fire can respond to, like the Skaha Hills development.

Requests for comment from PIB administration were not returned by press deadline.

Area residents can also expect to see some smoke rising above the Campbell Mountain area this weekend as the Penticton Fire Department plays host to a large scale, live fire training program, with 150 firefighters coming from across the province to hone their skills for the summer fire season.

Related: Penticton Fire Department to host wildfire training symposium

“I’m pretty excited about it. It’s certainly needed in our industry,” said Watkinson, explaining they are taking steps to reassure locals about the visible smoke.

“We have two large billboard signs up in that area, and the media has covered it well,” said Watkinson. “We’ve put out releases not to be concerned about the fire on Campbell Mountain, or above the landfill primarily.”


Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
Email me or message me on Facebook
Follow us on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

Flames were visible on Green Mountain earlier this evening after a controlled burn on the Penticton Indian Band apparently got out of control. Photo courtesy Tanya Razzano

Just Posted

South Okanagan community taking action on fire prevention

Community working to prevent a repeat of last summer’s wildfire

In today’s Okanagan flood water, a reflection of 67-year-old history

In 1951, floods north of Oliver led to the government blowing out the highway to relieve pressure

Role of bylaw is ever-changing

Bylaw department faces variety of challenges

Grants for seniors housing project in Okanagan Falls

The move means other organizations who regularly get the grants may be left scrambling

Open letter to Premier John Horgan

LETTER: Group called First Things First Okanagan promotes action on climate change

Lt.-Gov. Guichon believes she made the right decision in last B.C. election

Outgoing Lt.-Gov Judith Guichon said her most memorable moments weren’t surrounding the election

NAFTA: Talks continue through weekend in scramble to get a deal

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland called negotiations ‘perpetual’

Pulp mill fined $900,000 for leaking effluent into B.C. lake

Mackenzie Pulp Mill pleaded guilty to depositing deleterious substance into water frequented by fish

B.C.’s 2-year lobbying ban starts May 1

Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists can grant exemptions from the prohibition if public interest

Horgan speaks of government’s successes to ‘friends’ at CUPE BC convention

CUPE BC president Paul Faoro said was first time a B.C. premier addressed convention in some time

Speed Skating Canada fires coach Michael Crowe after investigation

Crowe was a coach on the American team from 1983 to 1991 and again from 1999 to 2006

5 things to know about the ongoing influx of asylum seekers in Canada

Number of illegal border crossings are up this year – as RCMP, military, politicians try to combat

Salmon Arm RCMP arrest one male on child pornography charges

Search of Canoe residence leads to seizure of computers

Most Read