Township of Langley fire crews deployed to Williams Lake are said to be “in good spirits,” according to a memo to council from fire chief, Stephen Gamble.
In his July 17 wildfire status report, Gamble describes how the Township responded when the call came in for assistance in the B.C. Interior.
The fire department was originally contacted by the Fire Chief’s Association of B.C. on July 8, asking for resources — including sprinkler protection units, structural fire crews and equipment — to assist with the multitude of wildfires ripping across B.C.
Many firefighters offered to help, and on July 10, the fire department gave the OK to send one fire apparatus, three firefighters, one lieutenant and a chief officer with one support vehicle.
The crew hit the road at 4:45 p.m. on Tuesday, July 11, and arrived in Williams Lake at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday. At 9 a.m., they had a crew briefing and their chief officer was assigned to be a task force leader with five crews.
“Their primary function was to set up structural protection (sprinklers) and patrols of two of the major sawmills in Williams Lake (Tolko and West Fraser),” Gamble wrote.
“The crews have been briefed every morning before setting out to their duties. We have been advised that they have been working 12-14 hour days and are doing well and in good spirits.”
Six Langley Emergency Program ESS volunteers were also sent to Williams Lake on July 12 to assist at the Williams Lake Reception Centre. They were subsequently sent to Little Fort on July 15, and to Merritt on July 16, but have since returned to Langley.
At one point, Gamble said they were looking at hosting an evacuee reception centre at Trinity Western University, however the timing would not have worked, with the university hosting a large conference in July, and with their students returning mid-August.
Instead, the Cloverdale Arena in Surrey and Chilliwack Secondary School in Chilliwack have opened reception centres. It is expected that if Langley Emergency Program volunteers are needed, they will be deployed to the central reception centre in Surrey.
As of Friday morning, there are still more than 100 wildfires burning in B.C. and 43,000 people displaced.