Saanich firefighter Aaron Charlton is directing the deck gun on Saanich Engine 32 to soak down a log deck in Williams Lake, protecting it from flying embers. Charlton is among four Saanich firefighters helping to protect Williams Lake.

Saanich firefighters helping to save Williams Lake

As wildfires rage across the interior of British Columbia, four Saanich firefighters are doing their bit.

Four Saanich firefighters are among several firefighters from across Vancouver Island, who are currently working in Williams Lake to help area firefighters deal with fire that has forced the evacuation of that community. Crews from Victoria, View Royal, North Saanich, Sidney, Parksville, Port Alberni as well as the Tseshaht and Hupacasath First Nations have joined efforts to various fires in the interior.

“Saanich [firefighters] know all too well the effect that these types of events have on communities,” said Dan Wood, deputy fire chief operations. “Supporting the efforts alongside other responders to protect life and property is what they do day in and day out. They are proud group and determined to make a difference, [because] they as you know this could happen in our backyard.”

Wood said the quartet is doing well, working as directed by the Office of the Fire Commissioner. They are currently working to protect major structures in the area, such local mills, power plants, schools, and major subdivisions near the urban-rural interface, said Wood.

It is not clear how long they will stay in Williams Lake, he said, adding that they may to have to help fighters elsewhere, as the need arises.

Capt. Robert Heppell, a Saanich firefighter of 28 years, is leading the crew, which arrived last week with one fire engine.

“Most of my expertise is with structural fires, fortunately there’s a great deal of experience in our group with wildland fires,” Heppell said in an earlier interview. “It’s good to have that mix of experience.”

Longtime Saanich firefighter Ron Benedict and two other firefighters, Aaron Charlton and Lauren Beddington, round out the quartet. The latter duo bring much-needed wildfire experience as they originally joined the Saanich Fire Department from the B.C. Wildfire Service