South Vancouver Island firefighters outside a massive log storage yard in Williams Lake. Firefighters have been tasked with protecting the yards and their mills. Contributed photo

South Vancouver Island firefighters outside a massive log storage yard in Williams Lake. Firefighters have been tasked with protecting the yards and their mills. Contributed photo

Victoria firefighters doing their part to fight B.C. wildfires

Six firefighters volunteered to help in the Interior

A handful of Victoria firefighters are putting their lives on the line this week to help protect homes threatened by wildfires in B.C.’s Interior.

For the past six days, Doug Carey, a platoon captain with the Victoria Fire Department, along with five local firefighters, have been conducting structural protection in Loon Lake, a recreational community northwest of Kamloops. It is one of many communities that has been ravaged by the Ashcroft Reserve wildfire, which was last estimated at 42,300 hectares.

“This is a provincial state of emergency and our resources were needed,” said Carey, who got the call for help last Saturday night around 10 p.m., and has since been named the Loon Lake task force leader working out of the Cache Creek fire camp.

“My experience is that the communities at risk and in need of help don’t have the resources for the emergency they’re facing and outside help is very appreciated.”

Since Victoria crews arrived earlier this week, they have been working long days in hot and smoky conditions that often start with a briefing at 7 a.m., when tasks are assigned, said Carey via text message.

Using their expertise, Victoria firefighters have been responsible for ensuring more buildings don’t burn down, triaging properties and buildings, determining what fuels are likely to burn.

They also extinguish any smouldering brush nearby and remove fuels to prevent structure fires.

Despite the damage surrounding them, crews have remained positive.

“We all miss our families, loved ones and homes, but are working together to help folks in need. It’s a pretty rewarding experience,” said Carey, noting they’ve also been partnered with firefighters from Kitimat and Gibsons and have developed strong relationships with them so far.

Carey is unsure of when they’ll return home. The maximum amount of time crews can be deployed under the direction of the Office of the Fire Commissioner is 14 days, but he’s unsure of when new crews will arrive.

Firefighters from Saanich, Sidney and West Shore fire departments have also volunteered their services during the fire.

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