North Okanagan fire halls lend hand to B.C. wildfires

Personnel and equipment deployed north to help battle B.C.’s many blazes

North Okanagan volunteer fire departments have pitched in, when and where able, to help with B.C.’s wildfire situation.

The Coldstream, Armstrong Spallumcheen and BX Swan Lake departments have sent equipment and personnel up north to help with the wildfires.

“We have sent a tender to Burns Lake along with two members,” said Armstrong Spallumcheen Fire Chief Ian Cummings late Friday. The crew members were to be swapped out this weekend. Armstrong Spallumcheen has also sent members to help the Telegraph Creek wildfire in B.C.’s northwest corner. That fire had earlier wiped out 27 structures, but there has been no reported loss of life.

RELATED: BC Wildfires: Fire crews battle blazes across region

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BX Swan Lake has a couple of members at Telegraph Creek and Fire Chief Bill Wacey has been helping in Burns Lake and Fort St. James.

Coldstream Fire Department sent a couple of members and a tender to Takysie Lake, near Burns Lake, accessible by ferry. There is no wife and the members are staying in touch with Chief David Sturgeon via a pay phone at a nearby fishing lodge.

“Last night, I guess it blew up,” said Sturgeon late Friday of the fire. “They had to evacuate where they were. They’re just on standby until the fire rolls through, doing structural protection.”

RELATED: Naramata firefighters diverted after fire breaches Burns Lake camp

Vernon Fire Rescue Services has not been able to send any personnel or equipment due to a shortage of staff.

“We’re just in the middle of a hiring process,” said Fire Chief David Lind on Monday. “We’re looking at having some new folks on board in September, but we just don’t have anything to spare this year.

“We’re in good enough shape for the City of Vernon, but with the conditions and the way things are with our staffing levels right now, it would be irresponsible to send folks away right now.”

Coldstream has also kept members back to fill needs at home. Same goes for the volunteer departments in Lumby, Falkland and Enderby.



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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