Vandals destroy B.C. Wildfire Service communications equipment worth nearly $110K

 Vandals destroy B.C. Wildfire Service communications equipment worth nearly $110K

04 August 2016

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Canada —  Wildfire officials say vandals near Creston, B.C., have destroyed crucial radio equipment used to keep firefighters safe.

Someone broke into a radio communication tower at the top of the Thompson Rim Trail sometime between July 29 and Aug. 2 and deliberately destroyed all of the equipment inside, said fire information officer Carlee Kachman.

“It put the safety of firefighting personnel at risk,” she said.

Fire crews in remote areas use the communications technology to stay in touch with the fire centre, aircraft and other staff.

“It’s a vital part to ensuring the safety of our firefighting crews and ensuring the protecting of the public and of
infrastructure,” Kachman said.

This isn’t the first time the site’s equipment has been damaged, she said, but this time the electronics have been vandalized beyond repair.

The B.C. Wildfire Service is now looking for a new location for the tower, but the replacement will take several months and cost between $80,000 and $100,000, Kachman said.

For now, wildfire officials have created a temporary patch to keep in touch with crews in the area.

Provincial fire crews faced an early and aggressive fire season this year, as hot, dry conditions fuelled a number of blazes in May and early June, particularly in northeastern B.C.

Cooler weather and rain have created a downturn in fire activity recently, but fire officials are still warning the public to be vigilant about fire.

The B.C. Wildfire Service said in a release that crews responded to dozens of abandoned campfires around the province over the long weekend, including 32 in the southeast fire centre, the region where the radio communications tower was destroyed.

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