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BC Wildfire Service not requesting public aid on Wilcox Fire

Forest Grove Volunteer Fire Department asks public to ‘stand down’
BC Wildfire Services and Forest Grove Volunteer Firefighters inform community volunteers their services are not needed to fight the fire above Wilcox Road. Forest Grove residents were responding to a Facebook post asking for local volunteers to help build a fire break. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

The Forest Grove Volunteer Fire Department is advising the public that they are not being asked to help fight the Wilcox wildfire.

The post, on Facebook, was in response to another social media post that suggested the BC Wildfire Service was asking for public help to build a fireguard around Lake of the Trees Bible Camp. The guard is in response to a 2.65-hectare fire burning 1.3 kilometres northeast of Wilcox Road.

“At no time would BCWS ask for this type of resource as the danger to crews on scene, not knowing fire behaviour,” the post read. It urged the public to help to stand down, noting a guard has since been established on-site. Around a dozen community members showed up with water tanks and firefighting gear and expressed relief they weren’t needed.

Forest Grove Volunteer Fire Chief Shannon Wagner told the Free Press the guard was started by members of the community, who brought in backhoes and cats to build it. The local fire department assisted Saturday with hoses, water and pumps. The BSWS finished installing the guard.

“Very rarely do we bring in untrained members, it adds to the danger,” Wagner told the Free Press.

She said the fire department is also standing down on the Wilcox fire unless it is requested to help by the BCWS.

The Cariboo Regional District noted that while there have been offers from the community to assist in firefighting efforts, it’s best to leave the job to firefighters.

“While we appreciate the sentiment, we ask that this work be left to the crews assigned by the agencies responsible for managing our wildfire response,” said Chris Keam, CRD’s manager of communications. “Effectively combating wildfires requires a coordinated and strategic approach. Crews working outside of that structure may be put in danger or draw resources away from more immediate priorities.”

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