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Update: Spokin Lake residents have power restored after going two weeks without

Angie Mindus photo. Some residents living near the Spokin Lake wildfire have been without power and telephone for two weeks as the BC Wildfire Service continues to request power lines be de-energized due to firefighting efforts.


Power was restored to 169 impacted customers in the Spokin Lake wildfire area Saturday evening at around 9 p.m.

Resident Natalie Van Wyck, who was without power for two weeks, said her daughter came running into the house exclaiming “we have power.”

“We had left the light on our livestock barn and it suddenly came on,” Van Wyck said Sunday. “It’s a huge deal to have power restored. I think everyone has their phones back too, although there is one person without a phone because of something else and Telus will come out to deal with that.”

Van Wyck said the whole experience has been humbling.

“You don’t realize how much you take things for granted until they are gone.”

Original story:

Around 110 customers living in the area near the Spokin Lake wildfire east of Williams Lake have been without power since July 16.

Natalie Van Wyck who lives along the Spokin Lake Road said theirs was also off from July 7 to 10 and since then they have been running everything off a generator for the most part.

“People have been without telephones too and we don’t have cell service here,” she told the Tribune Saturday. “Telus came out and gave us another generator to run a telephone from and people have been using our house to communicate out. Some people have lost their wifi too because of the power surges. It’s been one thing after another.”

BC Hydro was out restoring poles and power four days after the initial wildfire damage from July 7, Van Wyck said.

However, because of firefighting efforts the power has been left off deliberately since July 16, the Cariboo Fire Centre confirmed Saturday.

“Unfortunately we have had to de-energize power lines because crews are working there,” said fire information officer Melinda Paplawski. “As long as there is active fire and crews are working nearby the lines cannot be energized.”

To Van Wyck that does not make sense.

“Crews are actually way out in the back 40 by the transformer that feeds power to Williams Lake,” she said. “The fire is not on the road and normally there is only power to properties for the first 13 kilometres of the Spokin Lake Road. That’s as far as hydro goes. It’s never been past there.”

Presently there is power on the Spokin Lake Road to the 4.5 kilometre mark, but after that the rest of the properties do not have power, she added.

“People who have permits to go in and out have been bringing us filled jerry cans to run our generator.”

Van Wyck said she and her husband Todd Van Wyck chose not to evacuate when the order came down on July 7 because they have livestock.

They arranged to move their 30 sheep to a property on the Horsefly Road not too far away and their 10 cattle to Big Lake.

Their pigs are a different story though, she said.

“We have three sows, a boar and smaller pigs and they need a special holding capacity,” she said. “They are not as easy to move. We also breed chickens.”

Another frustrating thing, she said, has been the fact many people have automatic sprinklers and watering systems for their animals but without power they are not working.

As a result members of the Miocene Volunteer Fire Department have been going out with totes of water to water animals when Van Wyck said they could be actively fighting fires.

The wildfire started behind their place on July 7 and then on Saturday July 15 when the strong winds caused fires in the area to grow, one came through their property.

“Our home was OK but we lost a 24 by 24 foot structure,” she said. “A lot of our neighbours lost their homes. Some people have not been told officially that they’ve lost their homes and that’s been really hard. And while some people may not have lost homes, they have lost structures.”

Van Wyck said there are animals roaming around and people who evacuated are left wondering if their lamas, horses or chickens are OK, noting the BCSPCA has been out in the last week feeding and watering animals and bringing out supplies.

“We put a big water trough outside our house in case any animals come by.”

It has all been “surreal” Van Wyck said of the last three weeks.

Todd works in 100 Mile House as an industrial electrician so he went into action when the Gustafsen wildfire erupted ensuring the nearby mill was de-energized.

He was doing that on the Thursday and Friday and then roared home Friday afternoon because fires were breaking out in the Spokin Lake area.

Smoke has not been such a big issue for them, Van Wyck said, noting she is starting to see some things come back to normal.

“We live near Hawks Creek and I noticed the cattails were all burnt and black last week and now they are greening up,” she said. “The birds are making more of their usual sounds now too.”

Monica Lamb-Yorski

About the Author: Monica Lamb-Yorski

A B.C. gal, I was born in Alert Bay, raised in Nelson, graduated from the University of Winnipeg, and wrote my first-ever article for the Prince Rupert Daily News.
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