By MEL ROTHENBURGER
Director, Electoral Area P, TNRD
We have many people to thank for helping get us through this wildfire season, including unsung heroes who come forward to save their communities from harm.
At today’s (Sept. 21, 2017) regular board meeting of TNRD directors, I outlined two examples of this for the board.
On Aug. 14, a wind storm at Paul Lake caused a tree branch to fall on a power line, causing a fire to start in an art studio and shed, which quickly spread to surrounding trees.
The Paul Lake fire brigade, a well-trained community-based and entirely self-funded brigade of volunteers, immediately responded but when they arrived the trees were already candling.
The brigade doesn’t have a fire truck but, with the help of local residents, totalling about 30 people set up seven hose lines and kept the fire contained for two hours until BC Wildfire personnel arrived.
The brigade remained on the job with BC Wildfire for several more hours until the early hours of the following day until the fire was under control.
If not for the brigade, this fire would almost certainly have exploded into a major wildfire, threatening not only the entire Paul Lake community, but Pinantan Lake and Harper as well, causing millions of dollars in structural damage and threatening livestock and potentially human lives.
On Sept. 10, a Pinantan Lake resident was enjoying the outdoors in the Ida Lake-King Lake areas south of Pinantan when he noticed smoke caused by a lightning strike to two large trees that were still standing in an active logging show.
Because there is no mobile phone service in the area, he drove back to Pinantan to alert the Pinantan fire brigade, which called out its members and drove the 5-6 km. back to the fire, where they assisted BC Wildfire personnel in extinguishing it before it got away, using axes and other equipment, and five tanks of water hauled in the back of their pickup trucks.
These volunteers, as it happens, had taken training earlier in the year for just such situations, and have been complimented by BC Wildfire for their assistance and skills.
As in the case of Paul Lake, this fire had the potential to be devastating to surrounding communities and properties… especially as the entire South Thompson Valley is just a short hop over the hill.
It’s worth noting that due to terrain and distance the brigade lost radio contact with those back at Pinantan, which could have caused problems had the fire started getting out of control. This accentuates, once again, the importance of cellphone service as a safety issue for rural communities including Pinantan.