Locals continue battling Kleena Kleene complex fire

Fires burning in the Kleena Kleene area 200 kilometres west of Williams Lake. BC Wildfire image.
Patrick King photo. An aerial view of the Kleena Kleene fires as seen Wednesday.
Patrick King photo. Colwell Lake fire southwest of Kleena Kleene and Tatla Lake is not threatening homes.
Patrick King photo. Pilot Mike King White Saddle Air Wednesday in the Kleena Kleene area.
Patrick King photo. As of Wednesday, White Saddle Air was the only air support fighting fires in the Kleena Kleene area Wednesday.

Locals are taking the initiative as several wildfires continue to burn near Kleena Kleene located about 200 kilometres west of Williams Lake along Highway 20.

“So far we’ve only been able to fight this fire with local resources that we have,” said Patrick King of White Saddle Air Wednesday. “Lots of locals have been chipping in and helping.

White Saddle Air helicopter has been the only bucket machine in the area, but by 9 p.m. Wednesday evening King said they seemed to be holding the fire back for now.

Another fire, the Colwell Lake fire, southwest of Kleena Kleene and Tatla Lake is not threatening any houses, but it is not going to go out anytime soon, King added.

On Wednesday, family nurse practitioner Patrice Gordon told the Tribune from her home at Horn Lake near Tatla Lake the community has stepped up to the plate in an amazing way.

Gordon, along with her partner Dr. Rob Coatzee, have been manning the Tatla Lake medical clinic after they were instructed to send the nursing staff home.

“They have an OFA level 3 person coming out and so this morning have organized the emergency transport vehicle to transport patients,” Gordon told the Tribune Thursday. “We will have first aid at the launch site for our local firefighters, comprised of search and rescue personnel and locals from the Tatla Lake area. They are fighting to protect properties in the evacuated area that are threatened by the Kleena Kleene fire.”

As of Thursday no BC Wildfire service air support had arrived, but Gordon said they have heard heavy helicopter support with three personnel is coming to help White Saddle Air.

“It is very smoky in Tatla and looks like there are no mountains around us,” Gordon said. “I’ve been in touch with the First Nations communities including Anaham and Stone and we’ve been providing medical support for things going on in that community.”

They had to evacuate a child out of Redstone that was having medical issues Wednesday evening, she added, noting they sent the child to Williams Lake.

“There have been a lot of little things in all the communities but the nurses in the communities are working really hard and they know they can get in contact with us. I don’t think anyone has gone without assistance It’s about figuring out mechanisms and how to get things to people as they are needed.

“It’s going really well,” she added.

Dr. Coetzeee is manning the medical side while Gordon is out helping set up the first aid for the firefighters at the launch site.

At this point the BC Wildfire Service does not have any information about the fires in the area, other than their locations with an interactive map and that they were discovered on July 7.

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