Vic Sharman’s sense of appreciation and responsibility for firefighters made him stay behind when Williams Lake was evacuated on the evening of July 15.
“These guys are saving our town,” Sharman said. “I thought we were responsible to make sure that they got good coffee and some food.”
Sharman, his wife, Lyda and son Alek, along with two staff and two volunteers are currently operating the Williams Lake Tim Hortons 16hours a day, helping keep work crews fed and watered as they work physically demanding jobs protecting Williams Lake from nearby fires. Supplies are able to get in, allowing the restaurant to stay open.
“It’s rewarding to help someone” said Lyda. “They are so hungry when they get off shift.”
Nearby, CJ’s Southwestern Grill restaurant owner Cathie Rossignol and helpers have prepared up to 1,600 meals a day for people on the front lines. In addition to feeding fire departments and the Emergency Operations Centre, Rossignol keeps the restaurant doors open for walk ins. She expects things will slow down, as camps are being set up for the fire departments.
Fuel and other essentials are being allowed through closed highways.
Canwest Propane/Sun Valley Petroleum in Williams Lake remains open.
“Fire, police and ambulance services are doing a great job.” said owner Scott Nelson. “It’s important to help the community and provide the goods and service needed.”
According to Nelson, other businesses in Williams Lake still operating to support fire efforts include Tasco Supplies and Chuck’s Auto Supply.
“Our tourism industry, residents and the countless helpers have shown one thing – we stand together. We continue to hear daily examples of extreme hospitality from individuals and businesses who have thrown open their doors without hesitation to help one another,” said Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association board chair Andre Kuerbis.
Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism encourages visitors to continue to ‘Know Before you Go’ by checking official sources of information and speaking with the tourism businesses directly.
Highway 1 through Cache Creek is now open to regular traffic, with residents and tourism operators able to safely return home and Highway 97 is open from the north to Quesnel, Barkerville and when headed south on Highway 97 to the Beaver Lake Road junction at McLeese Lake. Beaver Lake Road remains closed to regular traffic due to evacuation orders. Highway 97 remains closed south of McLeese Lake and north of Cache Creek as indicated by Drive BC.