More than a decade of preparation and fire mitigation has saved the community of Logan Lake from a behemoth of a wildfire that took a turn for the community over the weekend.
Alert bells started chiming on people’s phones just after 3 p.m. on Thursday (Aug. 12), notifying residents that they had to evacuate.
People frantically rushed toward their homes, packed up their belongings and left. It was an order they were expecting, after being on alert for weeks.
Mayor Robin Smith says everyone in the district has been nervous since late June, when a wildfire destroyed the Village of Lytton.
As people left town, Fire Chief Doug Wilson and his volunteer firefighters stayed behind and were ready for the fight.
“The fight is on, but my crews are ready,” he told Glacier Media on Friday.
The Tremont Creek wildfire, now estimated at more than 63,000 hectares, moved rapidly closer to the district. At one point, it came within 30 feet from a property.
Air support and firefighters descended on the community to help support crews on Friday evening, including 22 different pieces of equipment from 18 different departments across the province.
“I am very proud of the team that was put together,” Wilson says. “We had upwards of 166 firefighters from around the province and Alberta.”
“Everybody came together beautifully and we stood our ground.”
Crews strategically placed 24 bladders throughout the district, with pumps pushing water through hoses that were stationed on the streets. More hoses were then used to link up to everyone’s sprinkler system.
"We made an above-ground water structure in 24 hours throughout the town,” says Wilson.
Sprinklers are set up on the roofs of many homes throughout Logan Lake year-round, providing a mist over the home in case of a wildfire.
“With us working on this for the last 10 or 12 years, the past fire chief, Dan Leighton, has worked extremely hard at [fire] mitigating around the town and limiting the fuel load,” says Wilson.
When BC Wildfire Service support arrived on Friday, Wilson says they were extremely impressed by their setup.
"It cut our time from normally three to four days to just over 24 hours to have it [the sprinkler infrastructure] all in place,” he says, adding this allowed them to push the fire away from Logan Lake homes.
"Definitely, we had the advantage to take it and direct it, the fire, to where we wanted it to go, allowing us not to lose any structures within the district. It got very close.
"We stood our ground and we did not lose," Wilson says, noting the one home where the fire got within 30 feet, "it did not melt the house. It stood and is standing today."
The fire chief tells Glacier Media Logan Lake has survived the brunt of the fire and that crews will begin the mop-up stage shortly. For now, firefighters are getting some much-needed rest.
"I’ve got three or four guys napping right now, napping on the apparatus floor, on top of gear and trucks and back seats of cars, but no one is going home as of yet,” he says.