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Regional fire and police resources head up to B.C. wildfire fire zone

Police and firefighting resources from the Chilliwack area have been sent to the wildfire zones to offer support and fire relief.

Chilliwack Fire Department dispatched both firefighting personnel and equipment to Vanderhoof to assist Emergency Management BC last week in a province-wide state of emergency.

“Our region remains well staffed in case of emergency, and our thoughts are with those affected by the fires,” Chilliwack Fire officials said.

In addition to firefighters, a certain number of RCMP personnel from Chilliwack’s UFVRD detachment either “have been, or will be” deployed to provide assistance in the B.C. wildfire effort, according to Dawn Roberts of BCRCMP.

Those police officers are helping with emergency evacuation alerts, evacuation orders, and checkpoints.

The Pacific Regional Training Centre (PRTC) in Chilliwack has once again been established as a “hub base” this year for some of the RCMP officer deployment.

The officers gather at the PRTC hub to get briefed before being shuttled up to the areas where they’re needed.

One fire truck and two paid on-call firefighters from Chilliwack Fire Department made it up to Quesnel by Wednesday night and heading for Vanderhoof the next day.

Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz sent them off with a message on her Instagram account: “Please send thoughts and prayers for Daryl and Gary’s safety. It’s a tough time in B.C.”

As well, volunteer firefighters in Popkum, Boston Bar and Chilliwack River Valley have formed “strike teams” to combat wildfires and free up B.C. Wildfire resources.

“We have a long list of members who stepped up, showing again the calibre of people who volunteer on our local fire departments,” according to a FVRD post.

In terms of RCMP lending a hand, last year saw the largest deployment ever of RCMP resources to assist those fighting B.C. wildfires.

“We’ve learned a lot from previous wildfires,” Roberts said. They need to be prepared if it will be an ongoing requirement during drought and wildfire season in B.C.

They identified additional RCMP resources in case they’re needed again in future, and wellness supports for officers, like respirators, for when they’re deployed in active wildfire zones.

So far more than 200 members from 122 different RCMP detachments have been deployed in different capacities.

“That number is fluctuating daily,” she said.

BCRCMP has been pulling its resources from around the province like the Lower Mainland Tactical troop, and rotating to help with tasks such as traffic, information and technology and deploying command staff.

“We had no loss of life last year, and we need to have no loss of life this year,” Roberts underlined.

Chilliwack’s top cop, Supt. Bryon Massie, is particularly “mindful” of the wildfire situation, she said.

“He was one of the senior commanders last year during the wildfires so he is actively engaged to ensure they’re aware of any and all resources that can contributed,” the RCMP spokesperson said.

They are however making every effort not to pull local RCMP members too far away from the Upper Fraser Valley at this point, Roberts said, given that there is still some wildfire activity locally, at the Mt. Hicks fire, which is about 10 kilometres north of Agassiz.


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

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Jennifer Feinberg

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