The BC Wildfire Service is asking the public to not move or take any firefighting equipment after crews battling the Bush Creek East fire have noticed gear missing and sprinklers removed multiple times from the Scotch Creek bridge.
In a social media post on Sunday, BCWS said a number of pumps, sprinklers, hoses and ATVs have been taken from crews working in North Shuswap, critically impacting the effectiveness of structural protection.
“Gear that would protect dozens of homes is being moved to the areas that are ineffective and compromising structure protection plans,” BCWS said.
“Some of the gear has disappeared entirely and is suspected to be stolen.”
Sprinklers, pumps and hoses set up on the Scotch Creek bridge have been removed and taken on three separate occasions, BCWS said.
The bridge is being protected by sprinklers to allow safe access into and out of the area.
BCWS said an increased RCMP presence is actively addressing the issue on Sunday. The wildfire service said any unattended equipment must be left in place, as it is actively saving essential services, critical infrastructure and people’s homes.
BCWS said any observed criminal activity should be reported to the RCMP immediately.
As of Monday morning, the Bush Creek wildfire had grown to more than 41,000 hectares. The Lower East Adams Lake fire, which is burning just to the east, has burned just over 10,000 hectares.
There are more than 380 wildfires burning in B.C. Of those, 160 are considered "out of control," meaning they continue to spread and are not responding to suppression efforts.