The BC Wildlife incident command centre for the Central Okanagan firefighting efforts will be moved from Penticton to West Kelowna this weekend.
Efforts are already underway to set up the command centre and firefighter camp, which is expected to be operational by Saturday, on the south end of Carrington Road next to the A&W Restaurant.
Noelle Kekula, BC Wildfire spokesperson, said the camp set-up is now underway, a reflection of the need to concentrate all manpower and communication resources in one location to better utilize and manage those resources.
“It’s difficult to house everyone being the summer tourist season and if we can keep the firefighting crews together it’s better for managing their hours and safety better,” said Kekula.
Currently, Kekula said there are 200 firefighters engaged in battling a multitude of fires along with 15 helicopters and air tankers as needed currently based at the Penticton airport.
While having a greater visual presence on the Westside, Kekula said efforts to keep the public informed on changes to the status of the various fires across the region is being done through social media, with updated postings to the BC Wildlife website, Facebook and Twitter.
She said the daily media briefings that had been a regular occurrence for fires in past years has been done away with due to the time and effort to pull people together to stage those events.
“With the number of fires going on, the attention of the firefighting efforts need to be directed at fighting the fires so we are using social media more now to help get the information out to the public, ” she said.
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