Another team of Shuswap firefighters has been deployed elsewhere in the province where wildfires threaten homes and properties.
Sicamous Fire Chief Brett Ogino received a request yesterday afternoon, Aug. 23, to send the district fire department’s Structural Protection Unit (SPU) north of Pemberton where the Grouse Creek Wildfire has reached at estimated 848 hectares. An evacuation order is in effect in the McGillvray and Ponderosa recreational areas.
The Sicamous SPU team consists of Ogino, Chris Wilson, Peterson Bailey, Jason Reid and Joe McCulloch.
Sicamous firefighter and Ogino’s spouse Vivian Ogino said that with all the wildfire activity throughout the province, Brett had been anticipating a call, and had the SPU team ready to go at a moment’s notice.
“We were basically waiting – everybody had everything packed and had been for about, I’ll say at least two weeks,” said Vivian.
Vivian said the district’s SPU trailer was purchased this spring, after Brett and other Sicamous firefighters were called to provide structural protection during last summer’s wildfires in the Cariboo.
“Because what happened last year, he just felt that after last year, (Brett) just felt there was no way if this happened again this year, which it has, that we should be without our own protection plan basically for Sicamous…,” said Vivian. “Because… last year, he saw how much equipment goes out just protecting one house or a series of houses, how much you need, he wanted to at least have something that you could start with before asking for help.”
The Sicamous SPU team will be providing structural protection support for the Grouse Creek Wildfire for up to two weeks. In the meantime, Vivian said the local fire department has a capable crew of firefighters still in town or available should anything occur at home.
Prior to Sicamous’ SPU team heading west, teams of firefighters from the Columbia Shuswap Regional District and the City of Salmon Arm responded to calls to help up north.
Teams of CSRD firefighters, along with two wild-land trucks, were deployed to Dease Lake, where they’ll be assisting in the battle against a wildfire near Telegraph Creek that at last estimate covered 118,000 hectares.
A CSRD volunteer emergency social services team is in Vanderhoof supporting local emergency social service efforts.
Two teams of two Salmon Arm firefighters, along with a water tender, have been deployed to the Burns Lake area to operate one of the Shuswap Emergency Program’s structural protection units. “When we get a call, we basically have a truck designated, people on standby and equipment bags with all necessities ready to go,” commented Salmon Arm Fire Chief Brad Shirley, noting a list of resources is developed well in advance. “We got a call Aug. 11 and the crew was on the way the next day at 6 a.m.”