As 269 active wildfires blaze across the province as of Aug. 4, requiring precious resources and diverse tactics, Kamloops Search and Rescue (KSAR) and the provincial government are asking people to refrain from planning backcountry trips.
Cat Lapointe, KSAR secretary, said even quick hikes or day trips can be troublesome due to quickly changing fire conditions and aggressive fire behaviour.
If a rescue was required in the backcountry, KSAR members would be forced into a scenario with added risk and poor air quality.
“This is not the time to be planning backcountry trips,” Lapointe said. “All [outdoor] users should also be aware of the danger that the thick smoke can have on their health, and the health of our members.”
Not only that, but aerial and BC Wildfire Services (BCWS) resources, which are already stretched thin, may need to be called away from fighting fires to assist if a rescue is necessary.
In fact, BCWS has already been involved in co-ordinated rescues of hikers requiring the diversion of helicopters from the fire-line, challenging fire suppression efforts, according to a release from BC’s Public Safety and Solicitor General.
Numerous motorized off road groups are also asking members to refrain from recreational travel.
“The ATVBC, BC Offroad Motorcycle association and the 4WD Association of BC have requested that their members avoid riding in the Interior of B.C. due to the extreme wildfire danger,” said Lapointe.
Lapointe added while some may still choose to recreate in the backcountry as some BC Parks remain open, KSAR asks people respect BCWS restrictions including the wildfire ban and travelling through communities under evacuation alerts or orders.
For a list of which BC Parks are still open, click here.
To learn more about being safe in the backcountry, visit www.adventuresmart.ca
And, to report a wildfire, dial *5555 on your mobile phone or call 1 800 663 5555 toll free.