Sidney firefighters are working with their counterparts from across the province and from as far away as Ontario, as they keep the flames at bay in Williams Lake.
As part of the province-wide call out for firefighters and relief agencies, Sidney sent an engine company of one fire truck and five firefighters — as did the District of North Saanich. Sidney Deputy Fire Chief Mike Harman spoke to the Peninsula News Review from Soda Creek on Monday afternoon. He said the crew they’ve been assigned to are working in a trailer park in that area, installing sprinkler systems on people’s homes to keep them wet in the event wildfires raging in that region turn their destructive power their way.
“We have a series of bladders, or portable water reservoirs, and four engine companies,” he said. “We’re touring all of the building and identifying fuel and power sources and determining the layout of each property.”
To keep the bladders full and supplying water to the sprinklers, Harman said another three tender trucks are making runs between a filling station and their position - constantly.
“If the fire does turn towards here,” he explained, “we turn the water on to all the sprinklers.”
And should the winds change — Harman said winds are calm today (July 17) — and change the direction of nearby wildfires, they will evacuate to a safe zone that been pre-determined. Harman added he’s in constant communication with the base of operations there, in order to know that status of the fires — and to keep the crews safe.
The Sidney firefighters arrived in Williams Lake late Sunday afternoon. They secured accommodation and immediately went to replace another crew. Monday morning, they attended a briefing by the bosses from West Kelowna, he said, and began their shift from 12 noon to 10 p.m.
“We’re on a six-day deployment,”Harman said. “Another crew we sent up was sent to Cache Creek.”
The drive up to the B.C. interior was quite different that what regular visitors might expect. Harman said they passed few other travellers along Highway 97 north of Cache Creek — mainly only RCMP roadblocks, both on the highway and along back roads.
Harman said Williams Lake itself felt like a ghost town, following a mass evacuation of the community Saturday and Sunday. He said there’s no one left in the Soda Creek trailer park, but those from Williams Lake proper who have remained behind, are the ones providing firefighters with their meals.
Harman said all of his firefighters are safe and working with others from all over B.C. and Canada to help prevent fire from causing a lot of damage. He said they expect to be there until Saturday.