Fort St. John firefighters help wildfire efforts in Northwest B.C.

A trio firefighters from Fort St. John are off to the front lines of the wildfire fight in Northwest B.C.

Capt. Simon Caughill, Capt. Ryan Tancock, and firefighter Craig Faulkner, along with a wildland brush truck, left Aug. 8 for the Dease Lake and Telegraph Creek area, where a pair of wildfires have merged into a 30,000-hectare blaze that's prompted a state of emergency and evacuation order.

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The trio is on a 14-day deployment at the request of the province, and will be working on structural protection to protect homes and businesses, Fire Chief Fred Burrows said.

"By getting everything wet through sprinklers, you can change the relative humidity of the area and stop a fire from igniting those properties," Burrows said.

The Fort St. John firefighters join support being brought in from Thornhill, Houston, Burns Lake, and Salmon Arm.

Their first day of assignment was Friday, given the time to travel, rest, and prepare for the job ahead of them, Burrows said. The province requested a brush truck because of the area and terrain where the firefighters will be working, Burrows said.

"It's designed to get in an around obstacles, and somewhere where it's not appropriate to send a big city engine," he said.

The BC Wildfire Service reports that two fires at Alkali Lake and the South Stikine River have merged near the community of Telegraph Creek.

Both are believed to have been caused by lightning, and have already destroyed a number of structures. Telegraph Creek is under an evacuation order, as is Elbow Lake, 70 kilometres north of Dease Lake. The Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine has declared a state of local emergency.

There are currently 136 firefighters, 12 helicopters, and 20 pieces of heavy equipment deployed to fight the two fires.

"Crews and air support are working to minimize further impact to the community of Telegraph Creek," wildfire officials report.

"Crews are also working to protect culturally significant sites and infrastructure in the area. Burn operations will be used, if conditions allow, to secure the south flank of the fire."

There are eight wildfires of note burning in the Northwest Fire Centre. Since April 1, there have been 139 wildfire starts in the region.

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.

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The firefighting brush truck being brought by Fort St. John firefighters to the wildfire fight in Telegraph Creek. Supplied Photo
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