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Scavenging bears force 160 B.C. firefighters to pack up camp

Neither firefighters, not bears hurt, but their persistent presence deemed unsafe near Lillo0et

About 160 firefighters battling a blaze in British Columbia’s Interior have pulled out of their camp after they were subjected to what the BC Wildfire Service calls “persistent bear activity.”

The service says the bears threatened the safety of personnel “within and around” the camp near Gold Bridge, about 100 kilometres west of Lillooet, B.C., prompting the decision to move everyone Wednesday evening.

Nic Kokolski, an information officer with the service, says the animals had been moving around tents and other camp infrastructure.

Kokolski says no one has been injured and no animals have been harmed, but conservation authorities felt it would be safest if the firefighters left the area.

A social media post by the wildfire service says its personnel are being hosted at T’it’q’et First Nation and Lillooet municipal facilities for the time being.

It says conservation officers have been “assessing and advising” on plans to safely return crews as they battle the Downton Lake wildfire.

Scavenging bears have been a problem in other B.C. wildfire zones, with authorities in the Shuswap region in the Interior collecting refuse and refrigerators in hopes of keeping the animals at bay.

The Downton Lake fire has scorched 95 square kilometres of land and prompted evacuation orders and alerts.

The wildfire service says the fire’s activity remains low after rain fell in the area.

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