'All' resources being used

Colton Davies

The BC Wildfire Service says it has utilized "all available resources" to respond to an outbreak of wildfires around the Okanagan this week. 

"We did commit as many resources as were available and continue to commit more as time goes on," Glen Burgess, the BCWS incident commander for the Okanagan, told media at a news conference at the Penticton Fire Centre, Friday afternoon.

Burgess says there are about 14 different incidents between Peachland and West Kelowna that fire crews are working on, and adds more than 200 ground crew and more than 20 aircraft are fighting those fires.

He says the BCWS is continuing to ask for more resources. None are being asked for from other provinces More than 200 provincial firefighters are presently in Ontario and Quebec, and, while the province does have the right to recall them, that is not in the works right now.

Burgess also defended the provincial response to the Goode's Creek wildfire which sat as an unattended spot fire for about 18 hours until winds sent it out of control.

That fire started in Okanagan Mountain Park in similar circumstances to the devastating wildfire of 2003 that destroyed more than 26,000 hectares of timber and 240 homes.

Gerry Zimmermann, Kelowna's fire chief during the 2003 fire, was one of those who questioned the response.

"I think part of the concern there is people are reliving the past a little bit with that fire, and rightly so," said Burgess.

"The reality is the fuel type is completely different that it was in the past. It's no longer standing timber, it was severely burned a number of years ago."

He says that fire did not advance at all on Thursday.

Burgess says resources need to be prioritized, saying they need to be deployed to areas where high risk values (structures, infrastructure, lives) are threatened.

At the time, he says that was not the case.

"That's part of what we do with a limited resource we have to put them where the immediate threat is.

"If we had unlimited resources, we would go after everything all at once. We just don't have that capacity."

The full news conference can be viewed in its entirety above.

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