The B.C. Wildfire Service has been in the South Okanagan for a couple days, now, on a seven-day contract to help sandbag areas to help mitigate flooding in the area — particularly around Willowbrook and Sportsmens Bowl Road. Dustin Godfrey/Western News

Thieves target B.C. firefighters helping flood victims

The service has been helping with sandbagging efforts, as rural Oliver battles flooding

UPDATE: 12:21 p.m.

RCMP says five B.C. Wildfire Service vehicles were affected by thefts at the Coast Hotel in Osoyoos.

Cst. Sangl with the Osoyoos detachment said there were no break-ins in the vehicles, which had compartments left unlocked.

The Oliver RCMP detachment said Thursday they have seen a spree of thefts from vehicles, the majority of which have come from unlocked vehicles. Sgt. Blaine Gervais with the Oliver detachment reminded residents to lock vehicles, particularly when valuables are inside.

However, Sangl could not say whether or not the Osoyoos incident was connected to the Oliver thefts from vehicles, but said the firefighters were frustrated by the thefts at a time when they are assisting the region with flooding issues.

“We’re all frustrated,” he said. “Least to say it impedes their work when people steal their stuff.”

Sangl said things like hardhats, sleeping bags, tents and personal clothing were among the items missing, but did not have a value for the stolen items yet.

“It looks like they took whatever they could,” he said. “Probably go through it later and determine what’s off value, what’s not.”

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UPDATE: 10:50 a.m.

The Oliver RCMP detachment says there is a file open of B.C. Wildfire Service vehicles being broken into in Osoyoos.

A call has been put in to the Osoyoos RCMP detachment.

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ORIGINAL: 9:30 a.m.

A B.C. Wildfire Service vehicle was broken into this week in the South Okanagan while they help mitigate flooding issues in rural Oliver, according to the regional district.

Details are scarce, but in a tweet, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen said it was “disappointing” to hear that a B.C. Wildfire Service vehicle was broken into.

The Province of B.C. has provided over 50 fire fighters from B.C. Wildfire Service, who are working in areas affected by flooding in the south Okanagan north of Oliver, according to the RDOS.

The Willowbrook and Sportsmens Bowl Road areas have been impacted by high water flows this spring, with the freshet still yet to come.

Those communities are currently under a state of local emergency, with an emergency operations centre being run out of the RDOS boardroom in Penticton.

B.C. Wildfire crews have been strengthening sandbag barriers in these locations over the last few days, as well as preparing sandbags for use in strategic areas.

As the spring freshet approaches, the RDOS said it will be “invaluable” to have the extra manpower in place.

Nearly 150 homes are under evacuation alert in the Sportsmens Bowl Road area, with one home evacuated due to “debris and tree” blocking her driveway, causing emergency evacuation concerns.

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