LETTER: Lack of notice

We live in a high-risk fire zone area. Have they not noticed how dry it has been?

Some may think I am over-reacting regarding the story on your website (PentictonWesternNews.com, June 7, Controlled burn trial near Oliver) endorsed by the Ministry of Wildfire Services in our area.

This is their bulletin. Please note the time and date of this posting at 9:05 a.m. on June 7 — B.C. Wildfire Service crews will be conducting a burn trial east of Oliver on June 7, starting at about noon. Smoke may be visible in Oliver and surrounding areas. The bulletin they sent to media said a trial burn of this type generally does not exceed 50 metres by 50 metres and the air tanker group based in Penticton will also be using this burn trial to run some practice exercises of its own.

My reaction, as that of numerous neighbours I’ve heard from: June 7 the temperature hit at least 34 C and had been there for several days. We live in a high-risk fire zone area. We understand and appreciate that everyone requires training, however, have they not noticed how dry it has been? Do they not recall there was a drought last year? What about the fires last year on the other side of Oliver? This is not the time of year to do a “burn trial” in any region.

If they had to do this practice at this time (for whatever reasons) the area should have been notified with ample warning. We knew nothing about this. This short notice is unacceptable. If you are able to call it notice. We deserve more respect than that. We are all well aware of the potential danger of wildfire in our area, let alone the whole Okanagan, and these jokers decide that it’s a good time to do training?

One neighbour has suggested, as not all residents get into town every day, a four-day campaign of large signage notification along the main road, should this sort of exercise ever happen again. I feel horrible for those neighbours that were forced to live in a panic state due to this lack of information and common decency.

One positive note: there was no wind and tankers were in the air. That, if nothing else, assures people that are unaware of what is going on, that the forest fighters are present and working.

I consider firefighters and all first responders as heroes. They put their lives on the line everyday for all of us. However, I am questioning the lack of foresight of those that make decisions such as the above situation described. Am I over-reacting? I don’t think so.

Kelly Wheeler




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