As wildfires continue to burn in the Chilcotin as seen here directly west of Riske Creek resident Kathleen Lauriente-Bonner’s home Sunday at noon, Tl’etinqox First Nation Chief Joe Alphonse says many community members are staying put and working toward protecting the community by building a fire guard. Kathleen Lauriente-Bonner photo.

As wildfires continue to burn in the Chilcotin as seen here directly west of Riske Creek resident Kathleen Lauriente-Bonner’s home Sunday at noon, Tl’etinqox First Nation Chief Joe Alphonse says many community members are staying put and working toward protecting the community by building a fire guard. Kathleen Lauriente-Bonner photo.

Tl’etinqox First Nation prepares to protect itself from wildfires

Tl’etinqox First Nation Chief Joe Alphonse said Sunday his community is preparing to protect itself from a wildfire burning directly northeast of the community.

“We are bringing in machinery to build a fire guard,” he said from the community’s health centre Sunday morning.

“We have three firefighting unit crews registered with the province and are going to set up our own internal firefighting crew that’s not registered and start fighting it on our own. Yesterday we had three big cats outside our parking lot all day waiting for a call from the fire centre. No one here could get hold of them because they are in a situation where there are so much fires everywhere that they are scrambling.”

The community is without power.

“Ninety-five per cent of our homes have electric stoves so we’re using propane campout stoves and cooking for the while community,” Alphonse said.

Right now they have a two day’s supply of food and a truck delivering food is expected to come from Williams Lake Sunday.

“Next we will start cooking up food from everybody’s deep freezes,” he added. “Every 15 minutes we’ve got a whole new thing of food we are cooking up.”

On Friday several people left the community, but many returned home on Saturday.

“It’s our elders with respiratory problems and issues like that who are staying elsewhere. We had hundreds of people came through the community on Friday night and many tourists who camped in the parking lot of the band office.”

Alphonse was stranded Friday in Kamloops and eventually convoyed up home on Saturday with some other members.

“It was pretty devastating,” he said of the drive back to the Cariboo-Chilcotin.” Every driveway was manned by RCMP, it was a pretty extreme situation. 150 Mile House was the hardest hit that I could see until I got to Lee’s Corner hill and saw the fire that had wiped out Lee’s Corner. That’s one of the oldest heritage buildings in this area.”