Work continues to restore power to Shuswap communities impacted by the Bush Creek East wildfire.
During the Tuesday, Aug. 29 update on the fire, Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) Emergency Operations Centre director Derek Sutherland thanked BC Hydro crews “that have left their families and left their homes to come and help us out and get power restored.”
“I really believe Hydro is pulling out all the stops to get us some power back so we can move on with our recovery phase,” said Sutherland, adding restoration of telephone service could take weeks after power is back up and running.
In its own Aug. 29 media release, BC Hydro said the 43,000-plus hectare Bush Creek East wildfire damaged about 27 kilometres of power lines, requiring the replacement of 430 poles and 66 pieces of equipment. Power had been restored to about 1,000 customers in the area where access has been granted. However, BC Hydro added it’s too soon to say when power will be restored to the remaining 3,000 impacted customers.
“A complete damage assessment is still underway and these numbers are expected to increase,” said BC Hydro, adding more than 120 workers are in the region supporting restoration efforts, and more resources are available if needed.
“With the additional support on the ground, work is expected to ramp up significantly in the coming days,” said BC Hydro. “To date, BC Hydro has replaced 50 power poles, and has dug about 130 holes in preparation for placing additional poles. About 10 spans of wire have already been restrung.”
During the CSRD’s fire update, BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) fire information officer Mike McCulley said some of its crew working in Lee Creek were moved to the Magna Bay area where they are working on a guard line up the eastern flank of this fire. Other crews are working in that area as well.
McCulley said the fire remains very visible in Sorrento, which is disconcerting for locals. He said some guard line has been constructed up one one side of the fire and another parallel to Sorrento.
“We have suspended guard construction for today and brought our crews a little closer to the community… to deal with anything that comes up,” said McCulley, adding structure protection crews will be patrolling through the day and night, ready to respond as needed.
Asked about ongoing training/certification of North Shuswap residents so they can work on the fire, McCulley said 17 were working with BCWS crews yesterday, and “we’re really happy to have them.”
“They provide a lot of expertise, they’re extra power out on the line, we have them integrated with our own crews, our Type 1 BC Wildfire Service unit crews and others, so that it’s safe and so that they understand the tactics and the objectives of the day.”
McCulley referred to the trained citizens as “frontline firefighters… not people who don’t understand the business.”
To address concerns with food spoilage in the North Shuswap, Sutherland said waste bins had been placed at the Celista Fire Department fire hall, the Scotch Creek Market and the Ross Creek Store.
“I believe we have one going to Lee Creek as well, if it’s not already there, and that’s to take care of the spoiled food that’s in those fridges and freezers, and to make sure that the wildlife concerns are kept to a minimum,” said Sutherland.
For people who lost structures in the fire, Sutherland said the personal notification process has started and that it is going to take a bit of time. He encouraged those looking forward to that phone call to reach out.
Sutherland also reminded those currently using emergency support services to renew their supports before they expire. On that note, Sutherland said the Emergency Support Services centre will be moving Thursday, Aug. 31, and reopening Monday, Sept. 4, at the Fairfield Inn and Suites. It will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and can be contacted at 250-833-8360. For more information, visit csrd.bc.ca.
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