Eric Morrow (left) and Alan Pryor from Agassiz in 100 Mile House today (Aug. 31). Max Winkelman photos.

Firefighters from around B.C. help battle Elephant Hill wildfire

“We’re here to help as much we can.”

Structural firefighters from around the province are joining the effort on the Elephant Hill fire, arriving yesterday and today, according to Fire Information Officer Claire Allen.

“Just based on increased fire behaviour as well as just the numerous structures that are up in the area to the north of the fire, BC Wildfire Service, through the Office of the Fire Commissioner, two days ago put in requests for additional structural protection personnel.”

In total, 20 fire engines, each with four firefighting personnel, and ten water tenders with two personnel attached will be helping with the structural municipalities from around B.C., says Allen. The fire engines and firefighters are from communities including Agassiz, Merrit, Erris, Quesnel, Smithers, White Rock, Ashcroft and Vancouver.

“Lots of different areas from around B.C. lending a hand here to help with that structural component, where our wildland firefighters are both not equipped and don’t have the necessary safety apparatus to do any kind of structural firefighting. We just handle the trees burning in the vicinity of structures.”

Allen says she’s not sure if it’s common to request help from structural firefighters from other communities.

“Given the provincial state of emergency, it’s something we’ve used this season especially on this fire before. We’ve had numerous rotations of structural firefighters that were working predominantly in the Loon Lake area several weeks ago on this fire. Those were folks from Burnaby, Vancouver as well as firefighters from Vancouver Island.

“Definitely something that’s been going on on this fire for some time. Just especially with the structural interface impact that this fire has had. We want to get all the trained help we can in order to keep homes protected and they’ve definitely done an amazing job getting the sprinkler protection units set up on homes.”

They set up trigger points and set up pumps for sprinkler protection units, she says. When the fire is approaching, and it’s unsafe for wildland and structural firefighters, they can have those running, says Allen.

“They can have those running and they run for approximately five to seven hours based on topography. That really allows a bubble of moisture to be around the structure and protect it from any encroaching fire as well as any flying embers that might be coming to the vicinity of the fire.”

Some of the structural firefighters have been very active in the Pressy Lake area, she says.

“The structural crews have been going in and around there and equipping structures as needed. Especially right now, we’ve seen some latent heat still lingering in the Pressy Lake area. So the structural crews are not only equipping and firing up those SPU is what we call them, so Structural Protection Units, as needed, they’re also extinguishing hot spots that are burning close to structures just given how deep everything is dug into the ground. The fire is burning more than a foot underground in many places, so deep in subsurface and root areas.

“They’re digging down actively. That’s the best way we can extinguish those. A little bit of water on top there dries out quickly and doesn’t address the underlying fire and that’s been a real challenge with this fire as we’ve seen throughout its history. We’ll doust it with water but just given the dry conditions, those top layers of water there dry out quite quickly and the amount of water needed to get down into those subsurface layers is vast especially given how big this fire is. So it’s almost like an unfortunate game of whack-a-mole.”

Alan Pryor and Eric Morrow from Agassiz say it’s their first time travelling to a wildfire despite having been with their fire department for 47 and 17 years respectively.

“A little nervous… not knowing what to expect,” says Morrow.

He says they usually attend a lot of car accidents and not many wildfires.

“We’re here to help as much we can.”

 

Eric Morrow (left) and Alan Pryor from Agassiz in 100 Mile House today (Aug. 31). Max Winkelman photos.

Just Posted

Peeved with speeding drivers

The owner of property spanning Highway 97A near Mara is done with having to repair her fence.

One fatality in Highway 97 collision in Vernon

Two vehicles involved in crash that has halted traffic

Mr. Mikes to open in place of Urban Market

Restaurant expected to be open by the summer

It’s all in the black for Roots & Blues

While they didn’t rake in the dough, the 2017 event made a modest profit

Accused Shuswap drug smuggler pleads not guilty in U.S. court

Colin Martin continues to fight allegations relating to cross-border drug smuggling operation

What’s happening

Find out about events happening in your community this weekend

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

B.C. woman who forged husband’s will gets house arrest

Princeton Judge says Odelle Simmons did not benefit from her crime

Snow warning in effect for the Coquihalla

A snowfall warning is in effect from Hope to Merritt as slush and snow is expected on highways this weekend

Women’s movement has come a long way since march on Washington: Activists

Vancouver one of several cities hosting event on anniversary of historic Women’s March on Washington

Liberals’ 2-year infrastructure plan set to take 5: documents

Government says 793 projects totalling $1.8 billion in federal funds have been granted extensions

Workers shouldn’t be used as ‘pawns’ in minimum wage fight: Wynne

Comments from Kathleen Wynne after demonstrators rallied outside Tim Hortons locations across Canada

Most Read