Community meeting

Sicamous community meeting draws large crowds for fire update – Vernon Morning Star

A woman in the crowd promised a rain dance.

Alan Berry wants everyone in and around Sicamous to crush the spiders in their house.

Anything that will bring some precipitation to help with the Two Mile fire and all the wildfires burning around British Columbia

Berry, of the BC Wildfire Service, is the incident commander of the wild component of the Two Mile fire, a position he arrived at on Saturday. He, along with Sicamous Fire Chief Brett Ogino, and Derek Sutherland and Tracy Hughes of the Shuswap Regional District of Columbia / Shuswap Emergency Program, were guest speakers at a hastily called community meeting Sunday after. -midday, July 25, at the Sicamous Curling Club.

The meeting was intended to inform residents – those evacuated and those on evacuation alert – about the fire. Over 150 people showed up at the curling rink and over 300 more participated in the 90-minute Zoom lecture session.

“The last 24 hours for me have been spent knowing the situation,” Berry said. “It cleared up on Saturday so I went for a flight around the set of fire. I estimate it is still about 1,000 hectares. It’s not moving with a ton of growth but there is still a lot of work to be done.

Berry told the crowd to imagine Lake Mara going north to south. The focus, he said, was on the northern and southern perimeters, trying to put out the first 100 feet of fire from the perimeter to prevent it from expanding laterally towards the communities of Sicamous to the north and Swansea Point to the south.

“The southern end is always the area of ​​most concern to us,” Berry said. “It’s more exposed. He has a good advantage but he is not progressing but only on the first 20 to 30 feet. We must continue to patrol this area and link it to Hummingbird Creek at the south end. The southern end is more at risk at higher altitude.

A question asked by the crowd was about the weather forecast for the next long weekend. It’s supposed to get hotter again.

“We are at the mercy of Mother Nature,” said Berry. “The warmer temperatures and lower relative humidities are more difficult for us, they increase the behavior of the fire and this has an impact on the crew. It’s only a third of fire season and this team has been on multiple fires.

“The main thing that concerns us is the wind. We will continue to obtain timely (weather) forecasts and adjust our operations accordingly. “

August long weekend visitors usually refer to tourists or those who have cabins or other facilities on the lake. Hughes read a statement from the Shuswap emergency program asking visitors to stay away from the alert zone.

“The Shuswap emergency program cannot recommend people to go to an alert zone at this time,” said Hughes. “The more people who arrive in an alert area, if that alert turns into an evacuation order, that means more people have to leave. We cannot recommend people to enter.

“We know this is a sensitive subject. He is near and dear to many hearts and wallets. It is a resort community whose bread and butter are the tourists. It is a difficult burden, but we cannot in good conscience for the safety of people recommend that you come and stay in your cabin in an alert zone.

The order to evacuate Sicamous remains in force and the group empowered to lift it is the mayor and council of Sicamous. Mayor Terry Rysz said they weren’t ready to do it at the moment.

“Not until I know everyone is safe and we are in control,” Rysz said. “We don’t want to see anyone get hurt. Anybody. This is why this is a difficult call.

A man has called for more security for his Dogwood and Cottonwood quarters, saying that while on evacuation orders, people who do not live in his neighborhood have been spotted walking dogs and riding dogs. bike. Sicamous GRC Cpl. Wade Fisher responded by saying that more resources are coming.

“We have a limited number of resources, but we have brought in a few more corps to help mainly patrol where residents have been ordered evacuated,” said Fisher, who also received a large standing ovation. “We do not have the manpower to put police officers at roadside checks.

Highway 97A between Sicamous and Enderby has been closed for almost a week. Sutherland told the public that won’t change until the fire progresses, and even then it would likely be single-lane alternating traffic.

Ogino also wants to keep the highway closed for safety reasons.

“Our engines patrolled and made hot spots along the highway and things have calmed down considerably,” he said. “The challenge is for the burnt area above to drop trees on power lines. One of our engines got stuck behind a fairly large tree that went down to the highway. If he had hit the truck, he would have seriously damaged it and possibly injured our crew.

“So that’s obviously a big concern. I’m worried about the conduct of my crews, I wouldn’t want the public to drive that way. “

The Sicamous service received firefighting assistance from Malakwa, Ranchero and fire departments evacuated from Swansea Point. Ogino and Berry received large standing ovations from the audience, a way of saying thank you for the effort.

Although the town hall-style meeting was a huge success, Hughes said the best places to get information about the fire were the CSRD and Shuswap Emergency Program websites.

The regional district launched on Friday July 25 an emergency mass notification system, dubbed Alertable, which is available on the Apple Store or on Google Play for smartphones.

“The mobile app is the most desirable option and you can configure the area for which you want to be notified,” Hughes said. “All critical alerts will be sent to your phone. “

Notifications can also be sent by SMS or email.

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Wildfires in British Columbia 2021