Smoke fills the sky as a wildfire burns near 100 Mile House.-Image credit: Carmen Guidos photo

Locals lend a hand

North Okanagan resources fighting the fires in various capacities around B.C.

All hands are on deck to help fight wildfires burning around B.C. That includes some familiar faces both on the ground and in some lead positions.

The City of Vernon has granted Vernon Fire Rescue Services authority to deploy resources to help battle the wildfires if asked by the province.

Meanwhile volunteer firefighters from Armstrong/Spallumcheen, Coldstream, Lumby, BX-Swan Lake and Enderby fire departments have already been battling the blazes for a week now.

There are approximately 16 North Okanagan firefighters helping out in the Cariboo region.

Tendors from each of the departments are on scene as well as the Sprinkler Protection Unit and crew.

“Two from each of the firehalls are with tendors,” said BX-Swan Lake Fire Chief Bill Wacey.

“They have done amazing saves the last couple night.”

Meanwhile Wacey is stationed in Kamloops at the Provincial Wildfire Co-ordination Centre. He is the co-ordinating officer for structure protection for the province, working beside the deputy fire commissioner. Rick Owens, from Vernon, has also been deployed to the Cariboo Fire Centre and is the fire service advisor for the Central Interior.

They have been on scene since last Thursday, working 15-20 hour days.

“Everything got too big,” said Wacey of the escalating situation. “It’s extreme. All levels of government are extremely concerned.”

While local resources have been diverted, all bases are still being covered to protect the North Okanagan in the event of a fire.

“We have all made very serious considerations so that we’re not left short,” said Wacey, adding that his department has a crew on standby.

In the meantime, residents are urged to be vigilant is fire safe effort due to the extreme fire danger rating covering much of the province.

“I caution people to use extreme caution,” said Wacey.

Wacey is expecting to be in Kamloops for two weeks, depending on the situation. He arrived last Thursday evening, July 6, cutting some family time short.

“I had just flown my granddaughters from Fort McMurray and saw her for two hours,” he said, adding that she is in good hands getting spoiled by grandma.

 

The area of Boston Flats, B.C. is pictured Tuesday, July 11, 2017 after a wildfire ripped through the area earlier in the week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward