UPDATE: The truckers from Alberta have now left Burns Lake. According to Burns Lake councillor Charlie Rensby, the RCMP did not allow protesters to stop the truckers from leaving, and the protest has now moved to another location near the B.C. Wildfire Service base in Burns Lake.
A group of Burns Lake residents are protesting wildfire officials’ decision not to use a sprinkler system to combat a large group of fires in the area. They’re now blocking more than two dozen Alberta truckers from leaving the town.
The Albertan truckers brought fire suppression equipment such as sprinklers, pumps and hoses to Burns Lake to help combat the 8,500-hectare Babine complex fire on the south side of the community. The group of fires is zero per cent contained.
But the B.C. Wildfire Service says this particular high-capacity water delivery system isn’t going to work due to several factors, including the terrain and an insufficient water source.
In a statement Friday night, the fire service said the system requires close proximity to “very large bodies of water” in order to work.
“They also require relatively flat topography and are most effective in densely populated areas,” it said.
A group of ppl in #BurnsLakeBC protesting @BCGovFireInfo decision not to use sprinkler system against complex #BCwildfires in the area. Group blocking contractors who brought equipment from Alberta from leaving. 2nd pic = officials on why this way won't work. @BlackPressMedia pic.twitter.com/HUDIUzR1BV
— Ashley Wadhwani (@ashwadhwani) August 25, 2018
Fire crews are evaluating if the use of an alternate water delivery system could work to supress the blaze.
But Burns Lake councillor Charlie Rensby, who joined Saturday’s protest, said he and others were not convinced by this explanation.
“The biggest injustice is that politics is coming into play when we should be saving people’s livelihoods,” said Rensby.
More to come.