Nakusp Fire Department looks back on 2021 wildfire season

Fire Chief Terry Warren recounts incidents dealt with by Nakusp Fire Department over the summer

In the midst of one of the worst wildfire seasons B.C. has seen in years, the village of Nakusp was virtually unthreatened, thanks in part to the Nakusp Fire Department.

Wildfires forced evacuations and torched homes in the wake of record-breaking temperatures in the province this year.

Terry Warren, the fire chief and emergency program coordinator for the village of Nakusp, has been with the Nakusp Fire Department since 1983. He said that Nakusp ‘”got away lucky.”

The Nakusp Fire Department had roughly 30 volunteers on the force this summer, all of whom were local.

Two incidents were reported and dealt with by the Nakusp Fire Department with help from B.C. Wildfire Service and the community.

The Nakusp Fire Department received roughly 88 calls to this point in 2021, ranging from smoke, complaints or shutting down somebody burning materials illegally.

Nakusp firefighters battled a large blaze overnight on July 8. According to Warren, the cause of the fire was a pile of logs being struck by a bolt of lightning.

READ MORE: Large fire sparks at Nakusp log yard

“We worked all night to secure it and get it out. It was in a wind storm as well,” he said. “It was a scary night, but we got it and controlled the bush around it. It was at least a 12-hour incident.”

The log yard located at the Nakusp hot springs caught fire around 9:20 p.m. July 8, it is believed a lightning strike is the cause of the blaze. (Submitted-Skye Cunningham)

The log yard located at the Nakusp hot springs caught fire around 9:20 p.m. July 8, it is believed a lightning strike is the cause of the blaze. (Submitted-Skye Cunningham)

The community helped douse the log deck fire, as six different contractors with water trucks helped to get water to the fire along with the fire department trucks.

“It was a team effort of the volunteers and the community,” remarked Warren.

“The response to the fire was phenomenal,” said Nakusp Mayor Tom Zeleznik in an interview with Black Press. “This situation had the potential to be a lot worse but the quick action and coordinated effort of all responders kept the situation under control.”

The other major fire in Nakusp during the season was an incident that occurred near Arrow Lakes Hospital.

A campfire that was left unattended sparked a blaze between the hospital and Highway 6, prompting fire chief Warren to call in helicopters from B.C. Wildfire Servic to help manage the flames — something that hasn’t happened in Nakusp for many years, according to Warren.

“We’ve had help from them many times in the past,” said Warren. “Last time we had helicopters was a house fire in the middle of a hot August, when the music festival was in town. We had the helicopters dousing all the trees around, but that was many years ago now.”

“We work hand in hand with BC Wildfire.”

READ MORE: Mobile home fire near Nakusp outside fire department boundary


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