Eric Morrow (left) and Alan Pryor from Agassiz in 100 Mile House today (Aug. 31). Max Winkelman photos.

Firefighters from around B.C. help battle Elephant Hill wildfire

“We’re here to help as much we can.”

Structural firefighters from around the province are joining the effort on the Elephant Hill fire, arriving yesterday and today, according to Fire Information Officer Claire Allen.

“Just based on increased fire behaviour as well as just the numerous structures that are up in the area to the north of the fire, BC Wildfire Service, through the Office of the Fire Commissioner, two days ago put in requests for additional structural protection personnel.”

In total, 20 fire engines, each with four firefighting personnel, and ten water tenders with two personnel attached will be helping with the structural municipalities from around B.C., says Allen. The fire engines and firefighters are from communities including Agassiz, Merrit, Erris, Quesnel, Smithers, White Rock, Ashcroft and Vancouver.

“Lots of different areas from around B.C. lending a hand here to help with that structural component, where our wildland firefighters are both not equipped and don’t have the necessary safety apparatus to do any kind of structural firefighting. We just handle the trees burning in the vicinity of structures.”

Allen says she’s not sure if it’s common to request help from structural firefighters from other communities.

“Given the provincial state of emergency, it’s something we’ve used this season especially on this fire before. We’ve had numerous rotations of structural firefighters that were working predominantly in the Loon Lake area several weeks ago on this fire. Those were folks from Burnaby, Vancouver as well as firefighters from Vancouver Island.

“Definitely something that’s been going on on this fire for some time. Just especially with the structural interface impact that this fire has had. We want to get all the trained help we can in order to keep homes protected and they’ve definitely done an amazing job getting the sprinkler protection units set up on homes.”

They set up trigger points and set up pumps for sprinkler protection units, she says. When the fire is approaching, and it’s unsafe for wildland and structural firefighters, they can have those running, says Allen.

“They can have those running and they run for approximately five to seven hours based on topography. That really allows a bubble of moisture to be around the structure and protect it from any encroaching fire as well as any flying embers that might be coming to the vicinity of the fire.”

Some of the structural firefighters have been very active in the Pressy Lake area, she says.

“The structural crews have been going in and around there and equipping structures as needed. Especially right now, we’ve seen some latent heat still lingering in the Pressy Lake area. So the structural crews are not only equipping and firing up those SPU is what we call them, so Structural Protection Units, as needed, they’re also extinguishing hot spots that are burning close to structures just given how deep everything is dug into the ground. The fire is burning more than a foot underground in many places, so deep in subsurface and root areas.

“They’re digging down actively. That’s the best way we can extinguish those. A little bit of water on top there dries out quickly and doesn’t address the underlying fire and that’s been a real challenge with this fire as we’ve seen throughout its history. We’ll doust it with water but just given the dry conditions, those top layers of water there dry out quite quickly and the amount of water needed to get down into those subsurface layers is vast especially given how big this fire is. So it’s almost like an unfortunate game of whack-a-mole.”

Alan Pryor and Eric Morrow from Agassiz say it’s their first time travelling to a wildfire despite having been with their fire department for 47 and 17 years respectively.

“A little nervous… not knowing what to expect,” says Morrow.

He says they usually attend a lot of car accidents and not many wildfires.

“We’re here to help as much we can.”

 

Eric Morrow (left) and Alan Pryor from Agassiz in 100 Mile House today (Aug. 31). Max Winkelman photos.

Just Posted

‘An officer and a gentleman’: Const. John Davidson is laid to rest

Thousands attend memorial service for slain Abbotsford Police officer

Photos: Rivermen sink Clippers

Game went into double OT

Hands-on history during Douglas Day at historic Fort Langley

Satchel and foot stool owned by Sir James Douglas put on display

Douglas Day celebration honours Langley’s pioneers

Theme of 159th anniversary celebration was history of transportation in the region

VIDEO: Langley bottle drive helps families fighting cancer

Team Keian event honours memory of six-year-old

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

VIDEO: Coquihalla closed both directions near Merritt

Detours are available via Hwy. 8 and Hwy. 1

VIDEO: The Last Jedi is going to be the longest ‘Star Wars’ movie yet

Newest movie in the franchise will beat Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week.

PHOTOS: Procession and funeral for Const. John Davidson

Thousands attended celebration of life for Abbotsford police officer

B.C. Liberal leadership candidates debate different paths for party

Third debate held Sunday, Nov. 19 at Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Conference Centre

Apology to Canadians persecuted for being gay coming Nov. 28: Trudeau

Thousands were fired from the military, RCMP and public service because of their sexual orientation

Heavy rains, winds hit B.C.’s south coast

Localized flooding, gusts up to 70 km/hr expected for the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island

High winds cancel slew of BC Ferries sailings

Travel to and from Victoria and Vancouver as well as Northern Gulf Islands affected

Most Read