The BC Wildfire Service is restricting boat access on the Pend d’Oreille River due to boaters interfering with firefighting aircraft. Public access is also restricted along the Pend d’Oreille Road from the Seven Mile dam at Waneta east to the international border.

In a statement late Friday, the Wildfire Service says these restrictions will be in place until further notice.

“In order for wildfire suppression activities to continue safely and effectively, the public must stay out of active fire areas,” the statement read. “The Wildfire Act and wildfire regulation grants government officials engaged in fire control, including firefighters, the power to order all persons to leave an area.

“If a boater gets in the way of an airtanker, helicopter or other firefighting aircraft, the incident will be investigated by the ministry’s compliance and enforcement branch, the Conservation Officer Service and/or the RCMP.”

Under the Wildfire Act, the person responsible could face a violation ticket fine of $1,150 or an administrative penalty of up to $100,000. The person could also be charged with an offence under the Wildfire Act, which carries a maximum fine of $100,000.

The wildfire burning in the McCormick Creek area 20 kilometres southwest of Salmo is now about 250 hectares. As of Friday 37 personnel, four helicopters, six pieces of heavy equipment and air tankers were working on it when visibility permits. An increase in smoke should be expected each afternoon during peak temperatures.

It has resulted in an evacuation order for Nelway, an evacuation alert for the Shambhala Music Festival, and and the closure of Highway 6NS to the junction of Highway 3.