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Multiple fires spark concern

Deborah Pfeiffer

Residents are concerned after yet another fire burned in the White Lake Road area, near Penticton, on Wednesday.

The fire, which burned just off the road, not far from Highway 97, is the fourth so far this summer.

"I think a lot of us residents are really worried about the number of fires that have been happening on White Lake Road, that there may be an arsonist involved," said resident Doreen Olson, who was on the scene at Wednesday's fire.

According to fire information officer Kelsey Winter, there have been a total of six significant fires in that area since 2011, burning more than 120 hectares. All are believed to be human caused.

The fire activity has prompted the Wildfire Management Branch to place signage regarding suspicious fire activity near the junction of White Lake Road and Willowbrook Road.

"All fires in that area are under investigation, as a joint effort of the Wildfire Management Branch, the RCMP and local fire departments," said Winter.

She also noted it is standard procedure for the branch to investigate the cause of each wildfire.

Some of the fires have burned near the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory, but a response from the National Research Council Canada regarding their concerns was not immediately available.

The fires that have burned so far this summer, include one on July 7 that burned not far from the observatory and another July 22, near the intersection of White Lake Road and Twin Lakes Road.

Wednesday's blaze was just off of White Lake Road, fairly close to the highway.

Another fire destroyed a log home on Saddlehorn Drive at the end of July. That fire is not included in the six, as the branch didn't lead the investigation.

The Wildfire Management Branch encourages the public to report any suspicious activity  in the area to the RCMP or Crime Stoppers and to continue to report any smoke or flames they see by calling *5555 on a mobile phone or 1-800-663-5555.

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