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Sicamous firefighters kept busy over summer battling B.C.’s wildfires

Crews were deployed to 7 communities, have responded to 80 calls this year at home
The Sicamous Fire Department responded to calls across B.C. to assist in wildfire fights. (Rebecca Willson-Eagle Valley News)

With no wildfire activity in Sicamous this summer, local firefighters were able assist other communities in need.

Fire Chief Brett Ogino said his crews were deployed all over the province in “B.C.’s worst wildfire season.” These journeys started in May with a truck being sent to Fort St. John, and continued throughout the summer, with Sicamous crews heading to seven communities including Osoyoos, Sparwood, a fire site northwest of Lillooet and three times to the Adams Lake area.

Some Sicamous firefighters also assisted with structural protection work in Kelowna, said Ogino.

At home, the department has responded to 80 calls so far this year. Of those calls, 27 turned out to be false alarms, 11 were because of burning complaints, and seven were for grass or brush fires, which Ogino said were unusually common early in the year. The rest of the calls fell under the categories of minor fire (5), rescues and medical assistance (4), fuel spills (4), power lines/hydro poles (4), vehicle incident/traffic control (4), wildfire deployment (3), minor and major structure fires (4 total), mutual aid (2), investigation (1), public assistance (1), controlled burn (1) and propane/CO leaks (1).

Most of the department’s calls came in May, with a total of 16, and February had the least calls, only three.

Looking forward, wildfires and flooding remain Sicamous’ biggest concerns, said Ogino. Wildland firefighting and swift water rescue training are ongoing because of this, and wildland fire training is being considered for the public in conjunction with the BC Wildfire Service, he said.

Fuel mitigation work has been done along the Owlhead Forest Service Road and more work is being planned for the district’s west side. Proposals will be submitted to the Ministry of Forests and BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) for support.

Ogino stressed local governments can be a big part of integrating FireSmart into communities, which he said right now is the best way to mitigate wildfire risk. He also noted BCWS now engages a lot more with communities because wildfires now burn closer to urban centres as they expand.

Ogino said he foresees insurance companies becoming more involved, maybe offering discounts to property owners that conduct FireSmart practices and potentially choosing who they offer insurance to based on FireSmart work done in the future.

Mayor Colleen Anderson said she still wants to work towards the District of Sicamous becoming able to issue its own fire ban, irrelevant of the Kamloops Fire Centre or the Columbia Shuswap Regional District.

Read more: Sicamous fire department raises service level classification

Read more: Shuswap municipalities reflect on first summer under water restrictions

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Rebecca Willson

About the Author: Rebecca Willson

I took my first step into the journalism industry in November 2022 when I moved to Salmon Arm to work for the Observer and Eagle Valley News. I graduated with a journalism degree in December 2021 from MacEwan University in Edmonton.
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