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Wilderness Adventures - August, Week 1/2010

This is about a remote area in west central British Columbia, Canada called the West Chilcotin. Surrounded by numerous glacial mountain ranges, alpine lakes teeming with wild Rainbow Trout, and full of wildlife. Living here goes from no running water or electricity to spacious log homes with all the conveniences and without the smog!
If you would like to see pictures of wildlife, mountains, lakes, exciting snowmobiling, events and more, and read some great contributed stories and ongoing blogs, just go into Archives on the lower left side of this page.

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Check out the Picture of the Day.


06/08/2010 8:54 PM

Fire Update for August 06/2010

Here's an update on our weather and fires.
We still don't seem to have any fires of note out here, although smoke in the air for the last few days would have made detection difficult. Still, I think we're in pretty good shape.
We had some haze this morning but then we got a little rain off and on through the day. Not enough to amount to much, but between that and a breeze, our air has cleared right out. It's the first time in a few days that the mountains have been clear as a bell. We still have heavy rain clouds over us and the humidity is high with temps around 23C today, but it's cooling off quickly this evening.
Just to verify the note below, Anahim Lake reserve has not been evacuated. Anaham Reserve (slightly different spelling) at Alexis Creek was under evacuation alert. The RCMP office here was inundated with phone calls yesterday from worried locals wondering when they were supposed to evacuate. Unfortunately, the news stations on TV had the info wrong and created panic in all the wrong places.
Sadly, many of the media outlets also seem determined to sensationalize news to the point that they've gone over the top. Last week a couple in the Meldrum Creek area were told to evacuate. It is not determined whether they refused and went out to cut firewood, or if as I was told, they agreed but stopped to cut firewood on the way out of the area. I understand he was killed when a tree fell on him. Naturally, it made it dangerous for emergency personnel to enter an area with forest fires because of this death, but the man did NOT die from fire. However, much of the media has tried to put a twist on it, presumably with the help of the Cariboo Fire Center.
You see, no matter what, they want people to evacuate a fire when they tell them to. All of Ministry of Forests personnel wishes people to obey evacuation orders and it's of great concern to them and it pisses them off when people don't. Because.... you don't have to. If you do not have children or a disabled person on the property, you do not have to leave and the police cannot make you leave. Although a fellow in Alexis Creek was told he would be arrested when he was told to evacuate a day ago. This threat was also used on the Charlotte Lake people during the Lonesome Lake fire and all the residents believed the RCMP's threat. They were extremely angry when they found out later that they didn't have to leave and they could have stayed to protect their homes. (Incidentally, the fires did not come anywhere near where some people were evacuated and never would have.
I am not suggesting that people shouldn't leave an area when there is an evacuation notice. They probably should because few would be prepared for the utter devastation that would be rained down on them if they're caught inside a firestorm. Not to mention death. If you're not going to evacuate, then it's on the premise that you understand you may very well die. With that understanding, then you make a decision, but you cannot be forced to leave and a lot of people now know that. So they don't leave an area.
As a result, the Ministry of Forests, and the Cariboo Fire Center have done nothing but repeat, repeat, repeat everywhere that evacuation orders need to be obeyed and will apparently stoop to falsehoods to get the message across.
We were watching the Vancouver news the other day when the death of this person at Meldrum came on the news and of course, as duly instructed, the newscaster on Global pushed the evacuation thing. But at someone there must have asked the right questions because at least he said at the end, "Not that fire actually had anything to do with this person's death." I thought at the time, "Geez, kudos for honesty, even if the newscaster did look a little sheepish as he kind of tacked it on at the end."
Unfortunately, the Williams Lake Tribune didn't even bother with that part. The honesty part I mean. I picked up Tuesday's issue on Wednesday and was shocked to read....
"Fires claim one life as Cariboo burns.... Tens of Thousands of hectares on fire." Whaaaat??? Of course any person is going to immediately think that fire killed a person, right? To continue, "One person was killed and another was severely injured in Meldrum Creek Sunday afternoon.
A couple, who had refused to leave the evacuation area when the evacuation order was ordered July 28, were involved in two separate accidents; one resulting in death and one was severely injured."

It goes on to say the situation was under investigation by Quesnel RCMP and that the CRD says people need to obey evacuation orders. Then the article goes on to list the places under evacuation, etc. That's it. No more mention of the person killed and certainly no mention of how they were actually killed. Now I knew this person had been killed and a rough account of the circumstances before it showed up in the paper. So unless another another person was killed, and it certainly doesn't say anything about that, the media was either led to, or deliberately decided to, mislead people into believing someone was killed by fire at Meldrum Creek because they refused to follow the evacuation orders and leave the area. (Which as I said above, may not be true either as I understood they were on their way out.)
All to press home that you have to evacuate.
Hmmm. Who's idea do you suppose that was?
No matter who's it was, I don't think lying in order to sensationalize a story is acceptable. It's true, we can all get the facts wrong, even checking, and rechecking... it can happen. We can also be misled when we're given the wrong information either deliberately or not. I'm not sure what happened with the Tribune, but I think they need to do a little more investigative reporting on their own instead of simply reprinting what they're fed. That happened last summer when they were simply reprinting everything Cariboo Fire Center's information officer (who in turn was being fed her information right from the top) gave to them, which forced me in turn to refute in the same newspaper a good bit of what she had given them.
It's sad that the cutbacks felt by paper and television media no longer allows for much in the way of investigative reporting. And they're the first to admit it, especially CanWest. Instead, most of these places just accept whatever is sent into them, which explains why two different new stations out of the Lower Mainland have identical news on them. It's no surprise that so many are going broke as they lose ground to the Internet. It's as though they don't care anymore and are just waiting for the last spark to die.
I understand that the air quality in Wiliams Lake improved substantially today and hopefully they were able to get all their aircraft into the air. All the major interface fires I have listed before, including the fires at Alexis Creek and at Meldrum, continue to grow. I feel for the guys (and gals) on the ground and in the air. Weather conditions have not been working in their favor, particularly with wind warnings for this afternoon. One small glimmer of hope. Some rain showers are expected for the Cariboo and a cooling of temperatures this weekend. It's just for a couple of days before it starts to heat up again next week, but hopefully it will help everyone make some headway on these fires. If they're really lucky, they'll get the surprise downpour we did this week during that lightning storm. Cross our fingers.
The bc wildfire website address that I gave before still doesn't upgrade a lot of their information but he Cariboo Regional District also has a website with news releases. You can find that info at http://www.cariboord.bc.ca/WhatsNew/NewsReleases.aspx . They get their info from CFC but at least there's a little more of it, sometimes...
Oh, hey! On a brighter note, I forgot to mention a bear I saw in the meadow along the road on the way up to Nimpo yesterday. He was out in the middle in deep grass so I couldn't tell if it was a black or grizzly bear. He seemed to have the hump and stand like a grizzly, but he was coal black and at that distance... I watched him for a while and debated on going back to get my camera, but I had stuff in my truck that I had to get up to the post office. He sure was big, whatever he was! I'm kind of glad I'm still not able to walk any distances. I wouldn't care to run into him, nor would the dogs.
Just got some updates in so I'll add them here for those of you that will be travelling this way. The highway west of Alexis Creek was closed between four and six this evening to allow air tankers to do their drops. The highway has been re-opened and no plans for more road closures are expected. Travellers are advised that smoke at Alexis Creek may reduce visibilty so please drive accordingly. Also, all of the wildfires are causing wildlife to be on the move. Additionally, open gates, and burned or broken fences means there is a lot more livestock on the move, particularly along the road corridors. Please slow down when you see livestock! Okay, I think that's it. Cross your fingers for wet weather for the Cariboo over the next couple of days and say a little prayer for fire fighters and aircraft on the fires this weekend.
05/08/2010 3:18 PM

Meldrum And Alexis Creek Fires

Just a note: We have not been evacuated at Anahim Lake or Nimpo Lake. The Anaham Reserve at Alexis Creek was evacuated. The media got it wrong. It's Two different places.
Fires to the east of us continue to be active, particularly in the Meldrum Creek Area. Less wind did keep the fire at Alexis Creek from taking off to the extreme that it has the past few days, but heavy smoke this morning hampered operations there a great deal. On the other hand, there has been nothing calm about the cluster of Meldrum Creek fires while they continue to exhibit agressive behavior. Relatives of some folks out here lost their home to one of those forest fires last night. I expect we'll be hearing more of that in days to come.
I'm seeing a real change in operations since Type I Incident Management Teams have arrived on the scene from elsewhere. Prior to them coming in to take over some of these big fires, we were not seeing the resources put on fires that should have been. The fact that so many fires around Williams Lake were allowed to grow to the size that they were before being actioned to any extent is shocking and the number of interface fires (involving structures) unprecedented.
The entire province of British Columbia is dry. In fact the Lower Mainland has received less rain in the past month than most other places in the province. There have been fire starts throughout the province due to lightning strikes, but other than the Lilloett/Lytton area which has extremely steep terrain and is very difficult to fight fire in (a problem they have nearly every year that it's dry), the Cariboo is the only place that is literally burning up.
In the 24 hours preceding July 28, there were approximately 60 fires started by lightning and they were all listed as small, less than a hectare in size. Prior to that, the only fires considered notable were the Kluskus fire, and ours in Tweedsmuir and that one was just allowed to burn because it didn't threaten anyone. That was only eight days ago!!! What happened??? The fires are huge and one has to stop and ask why. Pretty obvious, I think. I've been commenting on the person running the Cariboo Fire Center since last year since the original fire center manager retired. It would seem I may have been far too kind in my past comments.
Numerous personnel have reported to me that many of these fires that are now huge and out of control were reported as tiny spot fires. In fact, many were reported into the CFC repeatedly, with people expressing concern over these spots growing larger and the smoke color changing over a period of days and eventually in many cases, they were forbidden to report the changes over the radio. There has definitely been a radio blackout that everyone has noticed but I'll discuss that at a later date.
In the one particular incident that I know of and mentioned a few blogs back, a fire crew actually arrived at the scene and deemed the fire too small to bother with and left without putting it out. Other reports were simply ignored. Why? When everywhere else in the province, as soon as there's even a whiff of smoke, the fire centers are on on them like flies on manure and hit them fast and hard with everything they've got. Why did we have several hundred fire fighters sitting on their thumbs up at the Cariboo Fire Center for days without orders? Why was so much equipment not in use and guys on standby not called out?
For that matter, why were there no fire camps set up? When the fire at Alexis Creek crossed the highway the other day, firefighters caught on the east side of Alexis Creek could not get back to where they had been based at Puntzi Lake, which is a LONG way from Alexis Creek. Why in heaven's name would you not have called for a fire camp to come rolling in closer to the active fires? Puntzi is somewhere around 40 miles from Alexis Creek so it's going to take crews at least 40 minutes to get to the eastern fire in the morning, and that long again returning in the evening. That's a lot of trucks for crew members and a lot of fuel, not to mention the waste of time travelling.
What little information permitted out to the media or online basically said that due to the smoky conditions Cariboo Fire Center considered the safety of fire fighter personnel of the utmost importance and a priority. I agree that it is but that's pretty much all they said. It wasn't until Management Teams from elsewhere rolled into town that things really started hopping.
Before when you checked the bc wildfire website, there was next to nothing for information regarding resources on fires. For that matter, updating of information was slow or inaccurate and not to be trusted. But by Monday, one fire camp after another had rolled into Williams Lake. Numerous firefighters were either coming in or those already here were being put on fires. Lo-beds with Cats for fire guards was set to rolling as well as water tenders and other equipment. Suddenly there were all kinds of resources listed on each fire on the website as well as mapping and information, and the radios fairly crackled with action. People responsible for calling in check times for units on a fire were giving manifests over the radio (lists of equipment and manpower on the fire.) yet you heard little of that earlier before. So either they weren't calling them in, or they had nothing in the way of people or equipment on the fires they were working. It's pathetic that many of our unit crews were sent to other provinces when our province was deadly dry by early summer already, leaving us shorthanded.
Finally, something is being done!
So what happened here? How did Williams Lake end up surrounded by massive, out of control fires when wildfire conditions were no different than anywhere else in the province where it was dry? Well, someone dropped the ball, and that goes back to the manager of the Cariboo Fire Center.
He has succeeded over the past two years in getting rid of most of the personnel that argued with his thoughts on how things should be done in the Cariboo. Even though he comes from Coast where there's rarely ever fires and doesn't seem to have a clue about the Cariboo Chilcotin. Or you certainly don't have a clue if you think red and dead beetle killed pine is no longer a danger in forest fires. Hey, how is that thought working out for you, anyway, buddy??
So that left personnel at the CFC that may or may not agree with how things are done up there, but they need their jobs and they keep their mouths shut. Especially since they've learned that the head of the CFC will not take blame for anything that goes wrong. And fire being of the nature it is, things can and do go wrong during the fire season, but you have to make decisions fast, and just take responsibility for that decision when the smoke clears. So if you're out there directing crews and helis fighting fire, and know that your butt is going to be on the line and you will be thrown to the wolves if anything goes wrong, how likely are you to make decisions out in the field?
Most of the time when questions went in, the answer from the dispatcher was, "I'll check with Ops." It seems every single thing had to be run by the office. No one was making split second decisions on the ground. If you add the fact that the CFC simply seemed to be ignoring many of the small fires, which are now huge fires, then you're going to have a problem.
So besides personnel not making decisions on the ground, there would appear to be another serious flaw in the system. Apparently, the manager of the Cariboo Fire Center gets bonuses based on several criteria set out by the Ministry of Forests every year. You get the other Forestry personnel involved in Fire Protection, you get a bonus. You demonstrate a savings on budget, you get a bonus. Apparently it can add up to quite a pile of money. Now first question.... why the hell is anyone in that position getting a bonus for doing their job properly??
Is property and lives at risk for the sake of someone trying to meet criteria for bonuses? A bonus incentive would certainly explain the three full time positions that were given away last year, causing us to lose full time lookouts on nine forestry watch towers. Apparently this guy made it clear that he was determined to break the union's back. He pulled the lookouts off early in 2008 so it would be easier to make it to July and have the nine months needed to knock those full time lookouts out of a job and into an as is, where is, part time position. Only three lookouts out of nine were put up last year due to us raising hell. Ours, Alex Graham watch tower because supposedly it has to be up if Kappan is up, and Jesmond, the 100 Mile House lookout, because the MLA raised hell as well and that's her district.
I was told that had Chilanko lookout been up this year, the fires on the west of Alexis Creek would have been spotted and reported much sooner. Had the lookout not been pulled from Alex Graham two days before the Bull Canyon fire things would have been much different. And had the other lookouts, including Fish Pot west of Quesnel been up, it's highly likely that all those fires west and south of Quesnel toward Williams Lake and Meldrum would have been spotted much sooner. Although it appears it makes no difference in many respects even if fires were spotted and reported. It would seem they were still ignored.
Is this all for the sake of saving money? We know that the Ministry has already blown past the $50 million allotted for fires in BC this year and continue on that track at about $6 million a day now. However, the Government insists that they will spend whatever they have to on forest fires in the province. There is no limit to that. If that's the case, then why do you have incentives for bonuses to fire center managers, one in which the criteria includes saving money?
All I know is that I'm relieved to see Type I Management Teams in from other areas that go right over this nut's head. Because suddenly, fires are being fought. Unfortunately, in the long run, allowing those fires to get to the size that they have under the weather conditions that existed is going to cost a lot more now than if they had been put out when they were spots.
Fires exploding to the size that they have bring significant problems beyond the obvious. Today, every flying bird in Williams Lake is grounded at the airport. Visibility is about 3/8s of a mile, so poor that it would be too dangerous for the helis to try to go up. How much ground did the Meldrum fires gain because of no bucket action? Tankers and fire retardant? Bird dogs? Were they able to bring in aircraft from other jurisdictions to action the fires around Williams Lake? And what cost to have that much aircraft sitting useless on the tarmac? All because of smoke from fires that have grown terrifyingly huge in a manner not seen in this province.
Pelican Lake complex north of Nazko, 37,065 acres.
Four largest fires at Alexis Creek combined, 57,000 acres.
Meldrum Creek fires combined size, 45,000 acres.
Dog Creek Fire over 15,400 acres.
These are only some of the interface fires that were allowed to get that big and does not count all the other fires in the region, including ours here, that do not threaten homes. Total acres burned so far is over 150,000.
I have no beef with with any of the guys in the air or on the ground and only have the highest admiration for them. They'll be battling their guts out fighting these fires and my heart goes out to them. But something very strange has happened here and I think it needs to be investigated.
Already the Anahim band Chief at Alexis Creek was on television tonight saying that things should not have happened as they did. As a result, I understand from one of the band members here that the population at Alexis Creek has been blacklisted from working for the Cariboo Fire Center as a result. (Often locals are hired to help out with accommodations, etc. and trained to monitor and fight some fires.) Apparently little Gestapo up at the Fire Center figures if he can keep information over the radios to a minimum, control what the media writes, (oh yeah, we're gonna cover that too.) and blackmail everyone else into keeping a lid on things, no one can figure out what a huge screw up this summer's fire season has been so far in the Cariboo Fire Center's area.
I'll continue on this later, but for now, an update on our conditions. We woke up to pretty heavy smoke this morning, enough to make it worth closing up windows and doors and turning on the furnace fan because the smoke smell outside was pretty strong. We got a touch of breeze this morning but not enough to move the smoke out but then we started getting rain. Not a hard rain, but it has sprinkled all day and really wet the ground down. It has also served to clear the smoke smell. I think the low gray we're seeing now cutting our visibility is not so much smoke as just really low cloud. It's socked in pretty good above us and our temperatures are more than 10 degrees cooler than yesterday and humidity is quite high. In fact, we're contemplating starting a fire in the wood stove. Quite a contrast but it's a happy one! We have been very, very lucky with today's rain along with the one the other night. I don't envy the air quality for anyone east of us and my sympathy goes out to everyone.

03/08/2010 8:22 PM

Lucky!

Last night's wild thunderstorm gave us a full one inch of rain for which we are all eternally grateful. There were some great big smiles around Nimpo today because everyone I spoke to was worried about the number of lightning strikes we were getting and were more than aware of just how many fires we could have been facing by this morning had we not gotten so much rain. We'll still get fires, but it will take a couple of days for them to really show up. While we got a lot of rain and the trees were literally dripping this morning, by this afternoon it had all soaked into the ground and within a day or two, you won't even know we got it. That's when small fires started by lightning in old snags, stumps or underbrush will start creeping in the heat. Still, it's nice to have the breathing room and see everything look fresh and green again. Although not everything.....
I've been noticing that a lot of aspen along the highway have leaves turning brown and drying out. Until this rain we were faced with a really early fall. More rain is supposed to hit the entire province this weekend, which I'm sure everyone is looking forward to. We'll see if we get anymore then.
We started out with a pretty nice day. It was only slightly hazy with smoke, blue sky and a little cloud with high humidity. Unfortunately, by this afternoon one of our local fires around either Tweedsmuir or Corkscrew Basin must have blown a lot of smoke up because it got more and more hazy as the day wore on. It's still hazy on all horizons this evening but I'm hoping it will drop a bit. There was a solar flare that's supposed to bring on some great northern lights tonight and I would like to see them.
The Cariboo is still smoked in pretty badly and the fires there are still going great guns. They had no rain whatsoever last night but they did have gusting winds today, so no break for them at all. I'm still waiting on an update on what's happening with their fires so that will probably be tomorrow. Since tomorrow is supposed to be a really hot day for all of us, I don't imagine things will get better for them at all.

02/08/2010 10:07 PM

Boomers!!!

Our luck has definitely run out when it comes to forest fire possibilities. A storm moved in early this evening and there has been major thunder and lightning ever since. We were eating supper and watching the news when I noticed that three boats were coming in one after another off the lake. I just assumed that they knew each other and never thought to look at the storm clouds overhead or take a listen outside. It wasn't until I was standing at the sink doing dishes when a huge thunder clap rattled the window. I just about jumped out of my shoes it was such a shock! And it had that zipper crackle besides the boom that tells you it's close. No wonder the boats were scrambling in off the lake!
It is some storm and so far has lasted over three hours with more zig zag lightning than I have ever seen out here before. We rarely get a lot of thunder and lightning out in this country but this storm even beats last year's doozy that caused all the fires out here through the summer including the Heckman Pass fire. That storm lasted throughout the day for eight solid hours but I never saw nearly the lightning from it that I have in the past three hours. A lot of the lightning had up to five forks sky to ground, while lots of it simply ripped across the sky, the thunder following it booming from horizon to horizon. None of the thunder tonight has been that low mortars of war rumble. Nope.... this is thunder! Crashing, booming, vibrating, and crackling, when nearby and grumbling long and low when at a distance.
I was just out at my greenhouse closing it up and was looking straight at it when there was the bright pink of an enormous lightning flash that blinded me. I barely started to count when thunder crashed so nearby that it just about knocked my socks off! That one was just too close, as have been many tonight.
The only thing I'm really hoping is that the rain we've gotten with this storm may have made the difference to fire starts. We saw a great wall of rain over Charlotte Lake before the storm hit us and Heidy says that they got a terrific amount of rain there. Suits me if it rains here all night. Boy, could we use it! Still, I'm fully expecting there to be lots of fires reported tomorrow. It's impossible for there not to be with this amount of lightning.
Hallelujah! I just went out to check on rain gauge (at 10:30 pm) in pouring rain, and it's already up to 1/2 an inch. That's more than we've seen in the past two months! That's awesome. I feel a lot better about how many new fires there will be tomorrow.
Today was mixed cloud and a lot of smoke haze from that fire that started yesterday near Highway 20 and Tweedsmuir. That fire has created a number of spot fires but the main fire appears to be heading away from the highway, and Coastal Initial Attack crews are actioning the spots, so at this point in time, all seems cool for the highway in that direction.
Highway 20 through Alexis Creek is now open as is the alternative route in case the fire there causes a problem with the highway again. There have been more evacuation orders in the Cariboo Fire Region including for Bull Canyon and Riske Creek Military Reserve.
I'll try to update everyone tomorrow on what's happening here and elsewhere for forest fires.

01/08/2010 10:22 PM

Forest Fires Anahim Lake Area

Yesterday we were counting our lucky stars regarding forest fires.
Today .... Not so lucky....
My sister called from Williams Lake early this afternoon to ask how we were making out here regarding fires since lightning was expected in our area. I told her how great it was to see the sun this morning and that yesterday's smoke had mostly cleared out. All I had to report was high fluffy clouds, nothing looking ominous and packing lightning. I spoke too soon, of course.
She said it was really bad in town with smoke and ash and that air quality was again horrendous. She and her husband had been on the north side of their house where the mountain rears up behind them and wondered where all the large falling ash was coming from. Then they went around the house to the south side where they overlook Williams Lake and the hills beyond. She said it looked like the Apocalypse with great columns of smoke and what looked like an orange glow behind the hill. The Alkali Lake/Dog Creek Fires had blown up and I guess the Alkali Lake native Indian band was to have been evacuated to Sugar Cane reserve south of town, but that reserve is apparently also under evacuation alert, so they were diverted to an evacuation center in Williams Lake along with all the other people moved out of various areas. That included my nephew and his girl friend.
They could tell last night that the fires surrounding their ranch were getting worse. Visibility was almost nil and the smoke was so bad that they wore wet bandannas over their mouths as they spent until 3:30 in the morning unlocking and opening all the local ranch gates for two huge ranches. There were several hundreds of cattle and horses that had to be freed as well as sheep, lambs, and even chickens. They wanted to make sure the livestock had some hope of escaping the fire when it came. They passed a fire in one spot that they were afraid might close in behind them if they couldn't get back through in time. They arrived at a nearby rancher's to check on things there about the time forestry personnel arrived late at night to give evacuation orders and got home to find the same orders posted on the door of their home. So they loaded up their valuables that had been sitting in the middle of the living room floor for days and headed into Williams Lake.
Funny how things work out. That same nephew ran into a group of out of province forest fire fighters today and they told him that they had been sitting up at the Cariboo Fire Center along with helicopters for three days and no one would give them orders or tell them where to go. They said it was heartbreaking to know that there were so many fires around that they could be actioning and here's 200 personnel sitting on the tarmac without orders and without permission to go fight fire. That's just nuts! Here some 'leader' of a unit tells my nephew and another rancher that the fire they reported was too low priority for how shorthanded they were, (see yesterday's blog) and yet there's 200 guys sitting up at the airport wanting to fight fire and not allowed to. Get this.... remarkably the Cariboo Regional District has all this stuff posted on their website that has come from the Cariboo Fire Center's information officer. See the quote below:

Resources:
All of the Cariboo Fire Centre's available resources are currently working in the region, including firefighters, helicopters and heavy equipment, with additional assistance from other parts of the province and outside B.C.
The Fire Center has crews, helicopters, air tankers and heavy equipment available at a moment's notice to aid in suppression.


Pardon the language, but the lying ba....tards! What gives here? I sure would like to delve into this farther and force an investigation by Ministry of Forests into whatever that ding dong leader is doing up there at the Cariboo Fire Center, but I may not have to. The one rancher at Meldrum Creek is madder than a wet hen and since it looks like all three ranches in that particular area may very well be lost tonight or tomorrow to these fires, I'm thinking this dork may have his hands full. Particularly since CFC Structural protection refused to put sprinkler systems on those ranch buildings. This is something they normally do anytime there's an interface fire (forest fires involving residences, etc.) to protect the buildings as best as possible from fire. But it isn't just the buildings. It's the thought that hundreds of farm animals may die because of the inadequate use of resources right from the get go this spring.
That isn't the only screw up by the CFC by any means. There's been lots!
There was a Town Hall meeting in Alexis Creek today and there's a whole bunch of really P.O'd people in that community. Apparently Forestry decided they were going to do a back burn on one of the fires at Alexis Creek. A local rancher wanted to go with the unit crew so that he could show them where livestock was located. The unit crew refused to allow him to come with them and went out to do their back burn. Unknowingly, they set it where eleven horses were in a pasture. Only four made it out. I raised and bred horses and know them to be a thin skinned, easily frightened species. I don't even want to imagine the terror of those animals before they died.
In any case, back to the fires around here.
Shortly after talking to my sister this afternoon, I went to the neighbour's and then on to Nimpo to do some watering. Reports started coming in of one fire after another, first over in the Corkscrew Basin to the north of us, and then of fires in Tweedsmuir Park, all lightning strikes from the sound of it, and all grew really quickly. Even though Initial Attack crew and helicopter were on one fire in Tweedsmuir close to the highway almost immediately, it just took off. It's just this side of the Heckman Pass fire but since the fire fighters/heli returned to Anahim Lake after it went rank 4 with 45km winds, I have no idea what happened with it. But I could see the result.
I was at a residence up on a hill above Nimpo and I could see the dirty orange black pall of smoke begin to block the sun overhead, and as I made to come home and dropped down the hill and rounded the corner, I could see the huge pillar of smoke rising from the base of hills between us and Heckman Pass.
After supper I decided to go back up to Nimpo Lake and get a picture of the smoke column if it was still visible. It was, but there was also a lot of smoke to the north and the direction of the wind would not take the Tweedsmuir smoke that way. I decided to take a drive to Anahim Lake where there's a good view of the Itcha Illgatchuz Range where there was a large fire in the Corkscrew Basin last year. Sure enough, just behind last year's fire and slightly over the hill, a dense pall of white smoke hugged the ridge line for miles driven by a stiff west wind, until, the farther east it went the blacker and more orange the smoke got. It had probably been created an hour or two before and collected farther to the east.
There were several natives at Two Mile where I parked to take pictures and we discussed the fires. They stated that there was another fire up the Dean Road north of Anahim Lake toward Buffalo Ranch. That's the same direction of a fire in 2006 that put the community on evacuation alert and evacuation before the wind switched. While a wind out of the north is normally unusual for us in summer, this has been a weird summer regarding wind. All summer it has been switching back and forth, coming out of the north, west, or northwest. A problem if there's a fire in that direction.
From Two Mile, I could also see the Tweedsmuir fire very clearly. Actually, it looked like there was fire in two different places. There was a huge black column and then what looked to be a smaller one next to it. I don't know if the space between the two fires indicated a spot fire near the main fire, or if the space between the two smokes indicated that the fire had jumped the highway. I hope not. Right now, the highway is closed to the east of us again because a fire crossed the road at Alexis Creek this afternoon. If the highway ends up closed between Anahim Lake and the top of the Hill, it means we're cut off again as we were last year. However, it's all conjecture tonight. We'll see what the word is tomorrow.
You can find yesterday's article at July Week Three. I know many of you have probably given up waiting for a blog (I'm sorry!) so you'll miss out on a lot of previous fire information that is a prelude to this article if you don't go back and read it.




The purpose of this web site is to draw attention to a remote area of west central British Columbia. It is a beautiful area that relies heavily on tourism. The search engines don't know much about the West Chilcotin, Anahim Lake, Nimpo Lake or any of the other small communities in the region and I hope to change that! Even as large as this site will eventually be, there just isn't enough room or time in the day to fully describe this incredible country but I am going to try scraping away at the tip of the iceberg, so join me!


Follow the links, and see what the West Chilcotin is really like!
Smoky view of water.
 
Smoky air blocks visiblity.
 
Immature eagle in tree.
 
Smoke column at the chain up area.
 
Smoke over the sun.
 
Heavy smoke over the mountains.
 
Smoke column seen from Nimpo.
 
White smoke along the mountains.
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