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Boaters interfering with firefighting prompts Pend D'Oreille River and road restriction

Public access is restricted along the Pend D'Oreille Road from the Seven Mile Dam at Waneta - east to the international border.

In a media release late Friday, the Southeast Fire Centre said effective immediately, the BC Wildfire Service is restricting boat access on the Pend D'Oreille River due to boaters interfering with firefighting aircraft.

As well, public access is restricted along the Pend D'Oreille Road from the Seven Mile Dam at Waneta - east to the international border.

"These restrictions will be in place until the public is otherwise notified. In order for wildfire suppression activities to continue safely and effectively, the public must stay out of active fire areas," the release said.

"The Wildfire Act and wildfire regulation grants government officials engaged in fire control, including firefighters, the power to order all persons to leave an area."

Southeast Fire Centre said if a boater gets in the way of an airtanker, helicopter or other firefighting aircraft, the incident will be investigated by the ministry's Compliance and Enforcement Branch, the Conservation Officer Service and/or the RCMP.

"Under the Wildfire Act, the person responsible could face a violation ticket fine of $1,150 or an administrative penalty of up to $100,000," Southeast Fire Centre said.

"The person could also be charged with an offence under the Wildfire Act, which carries a maximum fine of $100,000."

Southeast Fire Centre said the wildfire burning in the McCormick Creek area 20 kilometres southwest of Salmo is 160 hectares and currently has 37 personnel, four helicopters, six pieces of heavy equipment and air tankers working when visibility permits. An increase in smoke should be expected each afternoon during peak temperatures.

For information about the evacuation alerts and orders associated with this fire, visit the Regional District of Central Kootenay online: www.rdck.ca

The Southeast Fire Centre extends from the U.S. border in the south to the Mica Dam in the north and from the Okanagan Highlands and Monashee Mountains in the west to the B.C.-Alberta border in the east. The Southeast Fire Centre includes the Selkirk Natural Resource District and the Rocky Mountain Natural Resource District.

To report a wildfire or open burning violation, call *5555 on a cellphone or 1 800 663-5555 toll-free. For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, visit: www.bcwildfire.ca

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