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Fire sparks alarm

A controlled burn on Osoyoos Indian Band land on Tuesday, sparked plenty of concern in the surrounding area.

People who live and work near the fire were keeping a close eye on the flames and Osoyoos Fire Chief Rick Jones said a lot of people were calling concerned about it.

Jones said the large fire was started by a band member to control the underbrush. Both the Osoyoos Fire Department and Forestry were also notified as a courtesy Tuesday morning that the controlled burn was being done.

"Because it's a forestry area up on the hill, they alert them," he said. "But they alert me as well, because I get a lot of calls."

The fire, on the north end of Osoyoos Lake, on the east side, started in the mid-afternoon and was still burning at night.

 Dan Martin, a worker at The Cottages, a housing project below where the fire was, said he called 9-1-1 because he was worried.

"I called around 4 p.m. and was told then it was a controlled burn," he said.

A worker at the Husky gas station on Highway 97 also called 9-1-1 around the same time.

Osoyoos Indian Band member Raylene Baptiste said people on the reserve were watching the fire Tuesday, because it looked like it was getting out of control.

"My aunt Colleen Baptiste reported it around 4 p.m. because she was concerned and lives on Radio Tower Road below where it was burning," she said. 

People hiking and driving in the area also noticed the flames on the hillside.

"I saw a bit of smoke just after 3 p.m. and I assumed it was a controlled burn on band land," said Penticton resident Jamie Leathem. "But then it appeared to be burning in multiple spots and it was windy and going in the direction of the wind. I wasn't too worried, because other people were paying attention, as well. I saw about four or five cars pulling over as I drove home."

The Osoyoos Indian Band did not return our repeated calls for information.


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