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Burns Lakers hold protest, don’t want Alberta truckers to leave

About 30 people are gathering near Overwaitea this morning

Approximately 30 local residents gathered near Overwaitea in Burns Lake the morning of Aug. 25, trying to prevent over two dozen Alberta truckers from leaving town.

The Alberta truckers brought fire suppression equipment such as sprinklers, pumps and hoses to Burns Lake to help combat wildfires on the Southside. However, they were not able to transport their equipment to the area.

The B.C. Wildfire Service issued a statement yesterday saying that a high-capacity water delivery system was “not an appropriate tool” for the fire complex south of Burns Lake.

“Recently a high-capacity water delivery system was brought to the Babine Complex to be assessed as a structural protection tool for the fires in this area,” stated the B.C. Wildfire Service.

“These higher capacity water delivery systems require close proximity to very large bodies of water,” continued the statement. “They also require relatively flat topography and are most effective in densely populated areas.”

“In areas of the fire where this tool would be most effective, the water sources were insufficient, the terrain was challenging and there was significant distance between structures,” it added.

Burns Lake village councillor Charlie Rensby, who joined the protesters, 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.

RCMP officers at the location prevented the protestors from blocking the trucks and the convoy ultimately departed for Alberta.

In the meantime, Emergency Management BC is asking people, who have self-evacuated to larger communities due to smoke, to consider returning home. In many communities hosting evacuees, accommodations are reaching capacity, the provincial agency said.

Emergency Social Services are intended to mainly help those on evacuation order while some exceptions were made.