Crews stop fire at the doorstep of Tl’etinqox community

Redstone Gas Bar remains open to service Chilcotin

The Tl’etinqox (Anaham) First Nation are thankful their homes are still standing after Saturday’s wind and fire storm took direct aim at their community.

The Hanceville fire, which started July 7 and had already claimed some structures as well as Lee’s Corner store and thousands of hectares of forests between Tl’etinqox, Yunesit’in (Stone) First Nation and Riske Creek, was fanned by the same strong winds that wreaked havoc through the Cariboo Chilcotin July 15.

In a press release issued Sunday, Chief Joe Alphonse said crews of well-trained fire fighters, 125 of them First Nations, used every resource available to them to fight back and divert the fast moving inferno that stopped just prior to their community entrance, at the gas station along Highway 20.

“Our community would not be standing today had we heeded the RCMP order. Our new health care centre, new school, church, store and many homes may not be here today,” said Alphonse, who along with about 300 community members, including women and children, defied an evacuation order and stayed inside the community to protect it.

RELATED: Low winds good for wildfires near Williams Lake

Since Saturday, however, all non-fire related personnel were relocated to facilities in neighbouring Tsilhqot’in communities and will remain there until the current threat subsides.

The Tl’etinqox community said they are grateful to all First Nations, provincial and out-of-province fire personnel who assisted in the effort to save the community.

“The Tl’etinqox people also want to thank the many volunteers who continue to provide food and assistance to our community,” stated the press release. “As a community, we ask our First Nation spiritual leaders to go into ceremony for all those affected by fires, and we appreciate all prayers sent our way.”

Just west of Tl’etinqox, fellow band member and rancher Harvey Petal said there were definitely a few close calls on Saturday after the fire jumped the Chilcotin River.

Petal said strong winds made the fire jump the river but helicopters with water buckets were there to assist ground crews in putting in out, while fire guards also helped stop the fire.

“We just need rain,” Petal told the Tribune via text messaging from his ranch Monday. “That will help.”

RELATED: EMBC to deliver satellite phones to wildfire-affected areas

Petal said the wind was blowing southeast yesterday but the fire is still burning strong north near the Petal ranch. He has not had any cattle lost yet due to the fire.

The Petal family are second generation ranchers who also vowed to stay and fight the fires by any means possible.

About 40 minutes west of Tl’etinqox, the First Nations community of Tsi Del Del (Redstone), situated between the Hanceville-Riske Creek fire and the Kleena Kleene fire, continues to operate the Redstone Gas Bar.

Geraldine Guichon described the area as “very smokey” Tuesday, which has given her itchy eyes and a sore chest.

Guichon said the gas bar has remained open throughout the wildfire crisis in the Chilcotin with the use of a big generator to operate the gas pumps and store when the power is out.

“There are still some people who are stranded who need our services,” Guichon said, noting they have also been providing gas and supplies to the many fire crews working in the Chilcotin.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Just Posted

COVID-19 highlights lack of connectivity in First Nations communities

Many don’t have access required to utilize online platforms, says First Nations Technology Council

Bear calls keeping new Cariboo conservation officer busy

Residents are reminded to secure attractants in Williams Lake and Quesnel

Update: 150 Mile VFD responds to vehicle fire on Highway 97 south of Williams Lake

Fire chief Stan McCarthy said the van was fully engulfed when crews arrived

Jayson Gilbert charged in Williams Lake murder of Richard “Savage” Duncan

Gilbert also faces first degree murder in the Rudy Johnson Bridge death of Branton Regner

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping the Williams Lake Tribune continue its mission to provide trusted local news

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

Another Asian giant ‘murder hornet’ found in Lower Mainland

This is the farthest east the invasive species has been found so far

B.C. girl left temporarily paralyzed by tick bite sparks warning from family

Mom says parents need to check their kids when they go camping

PHOTOS: Loved ones reunite at an oasis on closed U.S.-Canada border in Surrey

Officials closed the park in mid-March over coronavirus concerns

Feds delay national action plan for missing and murdered Indigenous women

Meanwhile, the pandemic has exacerbated the violence facing many Indigenous women and girls

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

COLUMN: Canada needs to remember rural communities as thoughts turn to pandemic recovery

Small towns often rely on tourism, which has been decimated by COVID-19

Most Read