Vancouver: British Columbia’s emergency management minister Bowinn Ma on Wednesday said people who are defying wildfire evacuation orders are putting at risk the “unified strategy” for battling the destructive blazes.

Bowinn Ma said the BC Wildfire Service has “opened a dialogue” to understand why some are defying the orders, but the directives carry legal weight and defiance of them must end.

Ma has told a briefing Wednesday that if people stay behind, tactics such as aerial water-bombing and back-burning can’t take place.

Some residents of the Columbia Shuswap Regional District in the Interior have been refusing to leave their properties, and officials say firefighting equipment there has been moved or tampered with.

Ma said that it’s a divisive issue, but people “can’t be doing their own thing,” when it comes to wildfires.

She said areas under evacuation order are not safe places.

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