Watson Lake (pictured) is one of the lakes that’s restricted to the public effective immediately. Tara Sprickerhoff photo.

Watson Lake (pictured) is one of the lakes that’s restricted to the public effective immediately. Tara Sprickerhoff photo.

Restricted access on four Cariboo lakes

Williams Lake, Watson Lake, Lac la Hache and Horse Lake affected

To assist with wildfire suppression activities, the Cariboo Fire Centre is restricting public access to Williams Lake, Watson Lake, Lac La Hache and Horse Lake, effective immediately.

When firefighting aircraft such as airtankers or helicopters are working on an active wildfire and picking up water from nearby lakes, they need plenty of room to manoeuvre to do their job safely. Recreational boaters or people using other watercraft who try to get a close-up look at these aircraft present a serious safety risk for air crews and anyone else in the area.

Related: Public asked to avoid Cariboo, Chilcotin parks due to “severe wildfire hazard”

This behaviour is extremely dangerous and interferes with the BC Wildfire Service’s ability to fight a fire, since a pilot cannot collect water when a boat is in its intended flight path.

The BC Wildfire Service has taken the following steps to assist firefighters in the area and protect public safety:

* An area restriction order has been issued for Williams Lake. This order is in effect as of July 14, 2017 and will remain in effect until Aug. 25, 2017 or until the order is rescinded. For information about this restricted area and its boundaries, visit: http://ow.ly/hBKY30dE2hv

* An area restriction order has been issued for Watson Lake. This order is in effect as of July 14, 2017 and will remain in effect until Aug. 25, 2017 or until the order is rescinded. For information about this restricted area and its boundaries, visit: http://ow.ly/ytRI30dEatR

* An area restriction order has been issued for Lac La Hache. This order is in effect as of July 14, 2017 and will remain in effect until Aug. 25, 2017 or until the order is rescinded. For information about this restricted area and its boundaries, visit: http://ow.ly/ZEYk30dE2eZ

* An area restriction order has been issued for Horse Lake. This order is in effect as of July 14, 2017 and will remain in effect until Aug. 25, 2017 or until the order is rescinded. For information about this restricted area and its boundaries, visit: http://ow.ly/FG2s30dE29p

Firefighting aircraft are currently taking water out of these four lakes to support fire suppression operations. Members of the public are not permitted to be on these lakes while these area restriction orders are in effect, so they don’t disrupt air operations.

Officials will be stepping up patrols in these areas to ensure compliance with these measures.

To report a wildfire or open burning violation, please call 1 800 663-5555 or *5555 on a cellphone.

For up-to-date information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, call 1 888 3-FOREST (1 888 336-7378)or visit: www.bcwildfire.ca

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