Public access to Williams Lake, Watson Lake, Lac La Hache and Horse Lake, is restricted.

BC Wildfire Service and BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations made the announcement Friday.

Firefighting aircraft are currently taking water out of the four lakes to support fire suppression operations. Members of the public are not permitted to be on these lakes while these area restriction orders are in effect, so they don’t disrupt air operations.

When firefighting aircraft such as air tankers or helicopters are working on an active wildfire and picking up water from nearby lakes, they need plenty of room to manoeuvre to do their job safely Recreational boaters or people using other watercraft who try to get a close-up look at these aircraft present a serious safety risk for air crews and anyone else in the area.

“This behavior is extremely dangerous and interferes with the BC Wildfire Service’s ability to fight a fire since a pilot cannot collect water when a boat is on its intended flight path,” said the Cariboo Fire Centre.

The BC Wildfire Service has taken the following steps to assist firefighters in the area and protect public safety:

* An area restriction order has been issued for Williams Lake. This order is in effect as of July 14, 2017, and will remain in effect until Aug. 25, 2017, or until the order is rescinded.

* An area restriction order has been issued for Watson Lake. This order is in effect as of July 14, 2017, and will remain in effect until Aug. 25, 2017, or until the order is rescinded.

* An area restriction order has been issued for Lac La Hache. This order is in effect as of July 14, 2017, and will remain in effect until Aug. 25, 2017, or until the order is rescinded.

* An area restriction order has been issued for Horse Lake. This order is in effect as of July 14, 2017, and will remain in effect until Aug. 25, 2017, or until the order is rescinded.

Officials will be stepping up patrols in these areas to ensure compliance with these measures.

With files from Rebecca Dyok, My Cariboo Now