Crooked Lake Resort in the Central Cariboo has become a camp for crews battling the nearby McKinley Lake wildfire.
Firefighters from the BC Wildfire Service, Alkali Resource Management (ARM), Horsefly Volunteer Fire Department and equipment contractors have been tasked to the 1,834-hectare, which was first discovered on June 30.
Once the area was put under an evacuation alert on July 13, the resort’s owners, Kim and Al Bouwmeester, cancelled guest reservations and began housing crew members.
The wildfire is about six kilometres as the crow flies and about 30 to 45 minutes by road from the resort.
“We have 21 people staying here,” Kim told the Tribune. “They’ve been sharing rooms in cabins and everyone’s got a bed. It’s a great blend of people.”
Crews are served three meals, and snacks and Kim gets up at 5 a.m. to make a sit-down breakfast of pancakes, toast, bacon, eggs however they like them and home-made bread.
“We don’t have much storage capacity and we are two hours from town so we have to make our own food, which is great.”
Some of the resort’s long-term guests have been helping out by bringing supplies from Williams Lake and helping cook.
“Maryanne and Lynn have been amazing and will fill in if we have to go into town for an appointment. Our daughter is getting married in Ontario so we will be going there for that and they will fill in,” Kim added.
She also credited another friend Tracy who was home on her day off making a batch Salisbury steak and cabbage rolls.
“People are really pulling together to make sure these guys are fed and taken care of as much as we can and forget that we could burn down,” she said. “They are a great blend of people working together. It is really nice to be part of the BC Wildfire Services team as well as helping out the contract crews and everyone that is involved.”
Joy Johnson, office administrator for ARM has been pulled into planning for firefighting logistics.
She said five-pack firefighting crews from ARM have been deployed to various fires since the beginning of July.
“We all remember July 7, 2017,” she said.
ARM crews headed back out to Anahim Lake on Friday, 100 Mile House on Sunday and two crews were stationed at Crooked Lake.
“We also have two equipment task forces on standby,” Johnson said.
Horsefly Volunteer Fire Department member Linda Bartsch said the department was deployed on July 13 by BC Wildfire Service to install sprinkler protection at three properties at Crooked Lake, including the resort.
“They are a great bunch of hardworking people up there doing their best on a difficult fire,” Bartsch said, adding another crew is staying at another accommodation in Horsefly.
This is the fifth year the Bouwmeesters have owned the resort. Kim said they measure the length of time by winters because the resort is snowmobile-in only for those months.