Members of the Williams Lake Fire Department’s structural protection crew are helping tackle wildfires in Northern B.C.
Right after the fire at United Concrete and Gravel Ltd. on Monday, May 2, Fire Chief Des Webster and firefighters Rayna Carpenter, Greg Ford, Evan Dean and Dereck Sulentich headed north, arriving the next morning to assist the Ministry of Forests wildfire crews in an area about 40 kilometers north of Fort St. John.
“We go after any structure,” said Webster who returned to Williams Lake Monday evening. “It could be garages, buildings or cabins. We were on a First Nations reserve, we were in a little mobile home park on the edge of the Alaska Highway.”
When the Williams Lake crew was fighting the Beatton Airport Road fire it chased them out, Webster said.
“It came on us pretty quickly and we had to back out of there.”
The Williams Lake firefighters didn’t take any equipment with them to Fort St. John, the Ministry of Forests just wanted a crew, Webster said.
Cold weather and snow on the weekend helped slow down the fire, but Webster is anticipating the Williams Lake firefighters will be there for some time yet.
“We will have to find replacements though because you are only allowed to work 14 days at a time and then you have to come out,” he said. “If we are still needed up there we will have to switch some people out.”
A total of 22 of the department’s 43 members are trained in structural protection.
“We went through all the training that was available to qualify ourselves so we can go on these fires,” Webster said. “We enjoy doing it and are glad we can go help out because forestry is busy with the forests and we’re there for the structures.”
The Williams Lake Fire Department’s costs for assisting in other jurisdictions is covered by the Ministry of Forests, Webster said.