There are lots of NOTAMs for fire suppression in B.C. and not all of them are being respected. B.C. has more than 100 active fires and generally there’s a 10nm radius restricted area around them so aerial firefighting aircraft can operate. Also, because of the heavy smoke blanketing the southern half of the province, some of the uncontrolled airspace is VMC. While most pilots can find a way through the patchwork of restricted airspace, the popular Rogers Pass VFR route through the Rockies between B.C. and Alberta is a little different. It’s effectively blocked by two fires west of Golden and pilots are busting the airspace.
Shelley Bird, spokeswoman for Parks Canada in that area, sent this advisory to aviation media on Wednesday. “I just wanted to send out a reminder of the current advisory for flights through Rogers Pass (between Revelstoke and Golden, British Columbia). Parks Canada and BC Wildfire Service fire crews are actively managing two wildfires in the area. Due to the steep terrain, fire suppression is done primarily by helicopter. At times there are between three to nine helicopters operating in the narrow valleys of Glacier National Park. An advisory is currently in place (see NOTAM #170983) but small fixed wing aircraft have been spotted entering the area recently. The safety of the public, our crews, infrastructure and neighbouring lands is Parks Canada’s top priority. We would like to remind pilots to please avoid the area as described in the NOTAM while fire management operations are on-going.”