Photo submitted. The McLeese Lake Volunteer Fire Dept. has been busy since wildfires broke out in the Cariboo.

Photo submitted. The McLeese Lake Volunteer Fire Dept. has been busy since wildfires broke out in the Cariboo.

McLeese Lake Volunteer Fire Dept. part of the wildfire fight

When “all hell broke loose,” in the Cariboo two Fridays ago the McLeese Lake Volunteer Fire Dept. leapt into action.

“Our members have been helping fight fires and the department has become the receiving body for donations,” said secretary Vicky Oritz. “We’ve turned the McLeese Lake community hall into a distribution centre. We’ve been getting truckloads of supplies from Fort McMurray and various other individuals who just drop by and bring stuff.”

Oritz said it all started when she happened to fall upon a post on Facebook asking if anyone needed anything.

“I made a comment that our fire department could use a flat of water and fuel. That just started a snowball effect and truckloads and truckloads of supplies, food, fuel, and firefighting gear began to arrive from people. I had a young lady yesterday with a few hundred dollars worth of things in her pickup truck she brought down from Prince George. She used all her own money too.”

Oritz said everyone bringing them supplies has not had any trouble getting through the roadblocks.

The Tribune began interviewing Oritz on Saturday and planned to drive out to McLeese Lake when the winds picked up and stoked many local wildfires.

Within a few hours, the city of Williams Lake was put under an evacuation order and this reporter stopped working to gather her family.

When the Tribune reconnected with Oritz on Wednesday, she said when McLeese Lake also received an evacuation order on Saturday it was confusing at first because the community is so spread out.

In the end, she added, only about one in 10 people chose to evacuate.

“We don’t really have any fires very close to our community,” she said. “They are across the river from us so this is a pretty safe zone.”

No structures have been lost in McLeese Lake either, she confirmed.

Oritz said she had just got off the phone with a man from Prince George named Rod Duerksen who brought them a firehose and some coveralls for the firefighters, who have been most busy fighting the Forest Lake fire near Tyee Lake.

“He just messaged me now to say he located a pump that we desparately need and is on his way bringing that to us.”

On Tuesday BC Wildfire service firefighters showed up at the Forest Lake fire, so that’s been a relief, she added.

While she was being interviewed, Oritz stopped for a moment to give some directions.

Volunteers were getting ready to take supplies to Forest Grove, Horsefly and Lac La Hache today and had gone to Riske Creek, Anaham and Nazko the day before.

When asked if they need anything, Oritz chuckled.

“Just real money?” she said. “No, we are managing.”