I had the opportunity to attend the meeting hosted last Thursday by the Deka Lake firehall and the Cariboo Regional District (CRD). It was an honour to ask the crowd to stand and offer applause for the fire department along with the BC Wildfire Service, Emergency Social Services (ESS) and the CRD — a task they were to happy to complete.
As I was driving out to the location at Deka Lake, I noted all of the support crews coming out of the area — multiple first aid vehicles, BC Hydro workers, flaggers, and members of the RCMP.
I think I had always viewed firefighting as people in red shirts covered in soot, and helicopters and planes flying overhead. But we must recognize the scope of what is actually happening in these areas of evacuation.
BC Wildfire is not only charged with the responsibility of trying to extinguish the flames before they consume our forests and homes, but they do so much more. They protect our homes from potential looting, which unfortunately happens sometimes. They attempt to keep the power on so that our food does not rot in our freezers and fridges. They attempt to convince others to leave while choosing to ignore orders. They constantly ask boaters to make way for aircraft, and continue to warn people not to have campfires.
They must also find lodging, feed a gargantuan crew, and be sure that supplies flow to keep them rolling — all the while attempting to hire our local crews and forge relationships with locals to aid with the attack.
It really is a daunting task and quite an orchestra to lead. Hats off for the work you do!
With all this in mind, it’s important they feel adequately supported. This is why the Opposition has been calling on John Horgan and his NDP government to call a State of Emergency. We need to be using absolutely every resource we can, and a State of Emergency provides certainty that those resources will be available on the ground and in need.
It is early in the wildfire season, and we’ve already seen the entire community of Lytton destroyed and two people tragically killed. Now is not the time for the government to dither and delay.
The Premier must enact a provincial State of Emergency so that resources, staffing and equipment are never an issue when it comes to life-threatening situations.
Lorne Doerkson is the Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA.