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Bre / fires
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toolman    Posted 08-02-2003 at 18:20:30       [Reply]  [No Email]
BRE, are you around, have you heard anything about the fire in the crownest pass , on my scanner im hearing that the town of hillcrest is either gone or very near to burning and the smoke is so bad ,and the rest of the towns are on 1 hr evac, all in behind TURTLE MOUNTAIN is a blaze,was wondering if you heard anything on your end , the calgary news is outdated, so that is no help.

Dale    Posted 08-03-2003 at 08:35:27       [Reply]  [No Email]
Thousands flee B.C. fires


Raging fire forces evacuation from Hillcrest, Alta.
1,000 people ordered out of Crowsnest Pass, Alta.

KAMLOOPS, B.C. (CP) - Kerry Byspalko, who didn't pack as fire loomed closer to his home, is one of hundreds of southern B.C. residents packed into an evacuation centre here Saturday with little more than the clothes on their backs.

"Last I heard, my house was a pile of rubble, burnt to the ground," said Byspalko of Barriere, B.C., about 50 kilometres north of here.

The town of about 3,500 was one of the biggest casualties in a series of wildfires that has swept through the region's parched mountains in the last three days and forced about 10,000 residents from their homes.

Byspalko fled Thursday morning before the official evacuation order was given, arriving here with only his clothes and the car that helped him escape.

"I've got absolutely nothing," said the 36-year-old forestry worker as he joined others looking for government help. "It's kind of a haze at the moment."

More than 75 homes, 150 outbuildings and three businesses were reported destroyed in the McLure-Barriere fire, and there were disputed reports Barriere's sawmill had also burned.

The figures include devastation in Louis Creek, a small First Nations village south of Barriere, where 60 homes went up in flames, and it did lose its sawmill.

"While it's tragic and tough, with some significant personal losses, at the end of the day we hope to be all the better for it," said Mike Harkies, B.C. operations manager for Tolko Industries, noting the company coped when it's Merritt, B.C., mill was destroyed previously.

The rampant fires - the most destructive the province has seen in 50 years - prompted B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell to extend a state of emergency to the entire province. He first initiated the rare measure Friday to deal with fires north of Kamloops.

So far, two fires in the Kamloops area have devoured 100 square kilometres of tinder-dry forests and grasslands.

The McLure-Barriere fire was apparently started by a discarded cigarette, said Denis Gaudry of the B.C. Forest Service. The area's other two fires at Rayleigh and near Falkland are also thought to have human causes.

A new fire detected early Saturday near Falkland, 60 kilometres southeast of Kamloops, forced more than 2,000 to flee their hobby farms and acreages on the west end of the Okanagan valley near Armstrong.

It grew to 15 square kilometres and closed Highway 97C at the town of Falkland, a rescue official said.

Also on Saturday, another fire that had been burning out of control for almost two weeks on Alberta's southern border with British Columbia forced 800 people out of their homes in Hillcrest, a historic mining town.

They joined more than 100 people from Hillcrest who have been out of their homes for a week.

Damage from the 66-square-kilometre McLure-Barriere fire, 50 kilometres north of Kamloops, remains hard to determine.

"It's very difficult right now - because of the conditions and the smoke - to get these assessments done," said Cathi Piazza, a spokeswoman for the B.C. Provincial Emergency Program.

Many residents from the area anxiously sought information at the Kamloops emergency centre about whether their homes have burned to the ground.

"I'm hoping it's still standing," said Shirley Ross, who has lived in Barriere for more than 50 years. "It's devastating. I can't imagine if it's not there."

Joe Davies, the president of the local Industrial Wood and Allied Workers Canada, a forestry union, said the cost of replacing the mill at Louis Creek could be $40 million to $50 million.

However Davies maintained there's no indication the mill at Barriere had been destroyed.

Evacuation centres were set up in Kamloops, Vernon and 100 Mile House. About 1,900 people had registered by Saturday morning, the Provincial Emergency Program said.

The province is doling out financial assistance through its emergency social services to evacuees.

Each person is eligible to receive $150 for new clothing. Adults and youth are receiving $42.50 for meals each day and children are getting half that amount. As well, families are getting between $70 and $100 for a hotel room.

B.C. businesses also set up a "Fire Aid" drive, asking people do donate blankets, water, sleeping bags, pillows and light clothing for evacuees at dropoff points at London Drugs stores in the Vancouver area and B.C. Interior.

Volunteers were also working with Kamloops SPCA workers to try to rescue pets and livestock left behind by fleeing residents.

In ordering expansion of the state of emergency, Campbell said there now were 353 active fires in the province, including 25 new ones ignited in the 24 hours between Friday and Saturday afternoons. These fires had torched a total of 380 square kilometres.

A haze of thick, grey smoke clings to many mountainsides. Yet vacationers continue to flock to the area, apparently intent on enjoying their B.C. Day long weekend.

The B.C. fires' first reported casualty, a 53-year-old man from Barriere, was in intensive care Saturday in a Kamloops hospital with burns to his face and upper body.

"Apparently he was helping a neighbour hose down his house when his clothes caught on fire," said Dave Poulin, a spokesman for the Interior Health Authority.

The man, who was in critical but stable condition, was transferred to Vancouver for treatment later Saturday, Poulin said.

Evacuation alerts were issued Saturday morning for several small communities near Kamloops, as well as the Sun Peaks resort, about 25 kilometres northeast of this city of 77,000.

Residents of the Kamloops suburb of Rayleigh were ordered out Friday after a small fire on a mountainside quickly mushroomed to 20 square kilometres.

About 85 soldiers from the Edmonton-based Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry were deployed to Merritt, south of Kamloops, on Saturday night in response to a B.C. government request earlier in the day.

The troops will support firefighters, allowing them to concentrate on emerging or unstable fires, the Department of National Defence said in a press release.

Among those evacuated from the Falkland-area fire were 30 clients and two staff members from the Round Lake Treatment Centre for drug and alcohol abuse.

"I'm worried and I'm concerned but I'm happy the clients and staff are safe," said Jami Tonasket, the centre's executive director.

Evacuees unable to stay with family and friends were being billeted in Vernon by the Red Cross.

Don Blakley, a manager with Vernon search and rescue, said some residents who were told to leave their homes refused to go, and were frantically spraying their property with garden hoses.

"We can't drag anybody out of their house," he said. "Those who insisted on staying were asked the names of their next of kin," Blakley said.

"When they ask why, we point out the reality that it is entirely possible that they could end up being killed," he said. "Some of them then change their minds."

B.C. Solicitor General Rich Coleman, in charge of the Provincial Emergency Program, would not rule out disaster assistance for Barriere residents, adding Ottawa had been informed of the request. But he said they will have to see just how bad the town has been hit.

The impact of British Columbia's summer of flame so far easily eclipses the most recent bad year - 1998.

That August, a wildfire destroyed 20 houses and 15 farm buildings in Salmon Arm, about 90 kilometres east of Kamloops, forcing the evacuation of 7,000 residents. Armed forces reserves were called out to help fight that fire.

This week's fires have cut power to 8,000-9,000 homes from Kamloops east to the Alberta border, including McLure Barriere, McBride and Valemount.

B.C. Hydro spokesman Stephen Bruyneel said the utility lost about six kilometres of transmission line near McLure and power won't be restored for at least a week.

"We're looking for backup generators across the province and we're looking to hook up some independent power producers," he said. "So, based on the success of those two things, we may be able to get the critical backup power up within the next few days."

Telus Corp. said about 100 workers had begun emergency operations to restore phone service to about 5,000 customers in the region. Spokesman Nick Culo said it was hoped service would be restored by midnight Saturday.

"We had to make sure that the area was safe first, but obviously getting the phone service back up is a priority for us," he said.

Like the McLure-Barriere blaze, about half of the B.C. fires have been caused by people, B.C. forest protection officials estimate.

About 1,800 firefighters were battling the flames at a cost exceeding $2.5 million a day.

While it hasn't threatened large communities, the province's biggest fire is in the north, a 150-square-kilometre inferno northeast of Chilko Lake. There have also been evacuations in the community Scum Lake, northwest of the fire.

Meanwhile, crews in neighbouring Washington state were beginning to counterattack a 310-square-kilometre blaze just south of Keremeos, B.C., which has been threatening to cross into Canada.

The Farewell Creek fire has been burning since June 29 but lower temperatures are allowing firefighters, including a 20-member Canadian crew, back to the front lines, an official said.

Willy-N    Posted 08-02-2003 at 19:17:27       [Reply]  [No Email]
Found one site on the net for you. Sure sounds like a real mess up there to be in. Here is a link to it. Mark H.

toolman    Posted 08-02-2003 at 22:39:38       [Reply]  [No Email]
thanks mark for the sites , we just came back from the fire in the crowsnest pass, it looks like , your seeing the gates of he!!. just terrible , firestorms, i don,t know if you ever heard of the FRANK SLIDE, but the back part of turtle mountain is completely a blaze very high winds, hillcrest is still there what you can see of it , but it,s hard to tell whats what, east end of blairmore fire is roaring around the mountain towards it, farther east people told us they evac, burmis another small town, the smoke on the highway way so bad i never went beyond hillcrest, coleman is better off to the west but it,s buring behind coleman and as we were leaving it,s breaking the ridge and comming up the draw between the town and the gas plant, it was something to see people everywhere watching, fire truck s ,water trucks speeding in an out of hillcrest, and people across the highway up in the town of bellivue sitting in their cars, on lawn chairs, watching , very surreal.ive seen some bad ones in my time but none this bad this close to so many towns, something thats burned into my mind tonight, i hope the people and the firefighters are ok cause it,s a bad one.

Willy-N    Posted 08-03-2003 at 00:18:55       [Reply]  [No Email]
Our Virgina Lake Complex Fire 2 years ago around my place when they lost 9 homes was like that. I remember fighting the fire for 3 days straite with out sleep! Then sleeping on the porch with my wife on the wooden deck taking turns with flames burning around our home. We were so tired but we did not want to both fall asleep. This went one for a week around the house and the fire lasted several weeks befor it was contained. That was only the begining. With the homes that burnt these people had nothing left. The rest of my neibors were mentaly upset and some have never realy got over it since. One you mention fire and he goes off the deep end. His son comes over to our place when smoke is in the air cause his dad gets so bad. I was so tired after the fire I could not sleep right and had to take sleeping pills for a few days just to get a full nights sleep a week later. I had dreams of the place burning over and over again. Took a long time for those to end. Seeing 100 ft tall flames around your home leaves a bad memory that is hard to forget. Not being able to stop the fire gives you a hopeless attitude but you can't give up. The flames at night were errie with out power for several days. Untill you go thru it, it is hard to understand the horror of the Gates of He** that came down on my place then opened up and went around the house. I saw that all by myself till I could not stand the noise and heat and had to drive away just knowing the place would burn but it did not. Had we have gave up and went to town like a lot of others we would have lost all our animals and property. Now the place is safer to defend and I know we can win the fight and it won't be as bad but there are homes that will burn again in another fire. Some of them will be ones that burnt the last time because they made no changes and the same problems are still around theres now that some of the lanscape has grown back up against the houses. Some live with the fear of tornados, floods and huricanes we live with the fear of fire and that is someting I can fight so we are staying and the season will be over in a couple of months and things will return to normal again. Been here 6 years now and only one fire went over and around the house. I feel I have a better chance of saving it again then befor cause the stuff that was a problem is either burnt or now gone. You will have a different outlook on life after those fires are out. Mark H.

toolman    Posted 08-03-2003 at 09:31:39       [Reply]  [No Email]
yes i can belive everything you say , i never slept much last night , all i could see is those flames and the down down below, my wife just wanted to leave she couldn,t stand to look, i talked to some people there, they been living like this for over two weeks now, they said they are just so tired and their nervers are completely gone , just heard on the news the fire is within a half kilometer of the town this moring (bout a quater mile i guess) high winds in the area again,they said they foamed two houses last night in the out lying areas and saved them,they have choppers and bombers on it again this moring they couldn,t use them much yesterday some people told me because of the smoke, said it was left up to the men on the ground,this fire stretches for miles all long the highway and then into the backcountry right up to the b.c. border , walls of flames roaring up mountain sides down other sides between the draws just unbeliveable, well i sure hope they can come through this ,looks like today will be a big day for them.

Willy-N    Posted 08-03-2003 at 09:40:42       [Reply]  [No Email]
I wonder if they used the Baricade Fire Gel on those homes? That is some pretty good stuff. The Fire Depts use it too. Class A fire wetting agents help but dry out fast and do not stick to the buildings long. That stuff is ment to make water wetter or penatrate easier. Mark H.

toolman    Posted 08-03-2003 at 10:47:51       [Reply]  [No Email]
im not sure mark, i do know that one thing they are doin in the outlying homes is putting sprinklers on everything and soaking everything down, but i don,t think that would off done much with the firestorm that i seen going through there last night, and i heard foam so that is probably what they used to save those two homes, but i don,t know if they would have enough of that to be able to save them all, just in a straight line along these towns it has to be at at least a dozen miles from the gas plant to hillcrest and they all branch off to the right and go right back into where the fire is now, it,s a big area lots of buildings,they need rain and lots of it and will probably be snow that eventually puts it out, this area is noted for its high winds too, always windy there.

Willy-N Site    Posted 08-02-2003 at 19:20:54       [Reply]  [No Email]
Here is another one on the fires. Mark H.

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