Monica Lamb-Yorski/Williams Lake Tribune A fire burns on Fox Mountain above Coyote Rock just south of Williams Lake and near Sugar Cane.

Qualicum, Coombs sending firefighters to Interior

Two members from QBFD head to Williams Lake

As the wildfires keep raging on in B.C.’s Interior, the Qualicum Beach and Coomb-Hilliers fire departments are each sending a couple of their own members to help.

Qualicum Beach Fire Department chief Darryl Kohse said two members from his department took a ferry to the Lower Mainland Tuesday (July 11) to head to Williams Lake “to provide some much needed assistance to deal with the fires that are threatening the Interior.”

Coombs-Hilliers Volunteer Fire Department chief Aaron Poirier said two members of the department, and a tender (water tanker), took a ferry to head up to Williams Lake on Tuesday evening for a six-day deployment as well. Poirier said the department will be working with Qualicum Beach on the project.

Despite the short notice on sending the firefighters, Poirier said organizing the truck and the firefighters was “quite easy.”

“The decision was finalized yesterday afternoon as they were preparing the truck,” Poirier said. “The phone call had only come yesterday afternoon. That truck was gone in less than four hours from the phone call requesting it to the time they were getting onto the ferry. We can make it happen pretty quick.”

As of Tuesday morning, wildfires around the Williams Lake area are burning an estimated 15,660 hectares, according to the Cariboo Fire Centre. In the Williams Lake area, there are numerous fires burning, including one near Hanceville, 150 Mile House, the Williams Lake Airport, Spokin Lake and Soda Creek.

Kohse said the two Qualicum Beach firefighters, along with an older tender, will be on a six-day deployment.

“If they’re still required we’re going to swap out our crews and take two more firefighters up and then bring the other two back.”

Kohse said this is the department’s first deployment outside of the area.

“We’re actually looking at a regional approach for our local jurisdiction. Coombs-Hilliers (Volunteer Fire Department), from my understanding, they’re sending a unit up there with two members as well,” Kohse said.

Kohse said local fire chiefs were meeting Wednesday (July 12) to see if there is an opportunity to send out other firefighters from local departments.

“If we have the opportunity to send members from the other departments on short deployments, we would send them in limited numbers,” said Kohse.

The Bow Horn Bay Volunteer Fire Department’s chief Geoff MacIntosh said the department is short-staffed and can’t spare any firefighters.

George Lenz, the fire chief for the Deep Bay Volunteer Fire Department, said they haven’t planned to send anyone up yet, but one member from the area, who used to be a firefighter in Kamloops, is thinking of going up.

The Nanoose Volunteer Fire Department chief Doug Penny said they won’t be sending any one up at this point since they’re “generally short-handed.”

Tyrone Heigh, assistant fire chief with the Parkvsille Volunteer Fire Department, said at this point the department will not be sending firefighters to the area. He said they want to make sure they have Parksville covered and protected.

The NEWS is awaiting responses from Errington and Dashwood fire departments.

With files from the Williams Lake Tribune

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