This is a look at the Hanceville wildfire in the Chilcotin west of Williams Lake Sunday afternoon. (Photo submitted)

Oyster River FD on standby; Comox firefighting resources assisting wildfires

With hundreds of wildfires burning out of control across the province’s southern and central Interior, Comox Fire Chief Gord Schreiner is assisting with the co-ordination of structural protection.

Schreiner was deployed by the Office of the Fire Commissioner (OFC) Saturday to assist with protection in Williams Lake and 150 Mile House.

“I expect to be here … for the next days,” he said via email. “The Comox Structure Protection trailer has been put on standby by the OFC and could be deployed later today if requested.”

He noted days assisting with the wildfires have been long, and included a 15-hour day Sunday, and added fire conditions are changing from better to worse, “and back again.”

He is also co-ordinating sprinkler trailers, engines and tenders across the province.

Courtenay Fire Department deputy chief Kurt MacDonald said the department has been contacted by the province to inquire about resources, but no formal request has been made – yet.

“I’m going to talk with our CAO to give him the update. We could be required but we’re far down the line – perhaps a bit later in the game. We have to sit down with our members and see who might be available. We are volunteer so there’s a lot of moving parts.”

In 2003, the department did send firefighters and resources to assist with the wildfires in Kelowna which burned more than 25,000 HA, but MacDonald noted the first priority is the protection of the City of Courtenay prior to sending resources to the rest of the province.

“We have to make sure our community is safe.”

This past weekend, MacDonald said a campfire not completely extinguished was spotted far down Headquarters Road by a passerby – not only are campfires banned, but the situation could have quickly escalated in to a disastrous situation, he added.

“It’s totally avoidable; let’s face it, the province is on fire and you shouldn’t be burning outside.”

Oyster River Fire Department chief Bruce Green said he has been contacted by the province and is on standby, as the department also has a Structural Protection Unit.

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