The Quesnel firefighters had to assemble on Tuesday, November 9.
The Quesnel Volunteer Fire Department had to call West Fraser, Barlow Creek, Bouchie Lake and Kersley departments to help put out a large log yard fire at a West Fraser log yard and a more residential structure fire. late in the day. The Ten Mile Lake Fire Department was on call to help if further fires occurred.
“It was quite difficult,” said Quesnel Fire Chief Ron Richert, adding that 30 of the 37 volunteers in the service had responded.
Richert said it was the biggest log fire he remembered in Quesnel.
“We’ve had smaller ones over the years, but they died out right away,” he said.
“The wind helped. “
Wind gusts of up to 50 km / h were forecast for Quesnel and it remained windy until late in the evening.
Richert said that although the wind made it difficult to fight the fire, crews could sometimes use it to their advantage, extending the distance their sprinklers could cover.
Firefighters even had to put out a small fire in a wooded area west of the lumberyard, which was started by falling embers. The lumber yard is located between Quesnel Cemetery and the old CNC factory on Quesnel Hixon Road.
“The most important thing was the structures and the embers falling where the structures were,” Richert said.
“We had embers going all the way to Enbridge, and we were worried on the industrial side if the wind changed. “
An investigation into the cause of the West Fraser fire is underway.
When firefighters first arrived, only a few hundred logs were on fire, but early attempts to contain the blaze with a single stack of logs were quickly abandoned.
“When you have a fire like this, it’s just too hot… there’s no amount of water at that point that can stop it,” Richert said.
“All you have to do is hope for containment.
While a ladder truck with a pipe on top briefly attempted to fight the blaze, a change in tactics was needed.
“We weren’t far from containment when we realized we had to withdraw some of our units because it was spreading so quickly,” Richert said.
“We had a different perspective when we were at a higher altitude. We could look down and see the scale, and see how many newspapers were actually involved.
As the crews battled the peak of the lumber yard fire around 5 p.m., they were called in about a structure fire in West Quesnel. Firefighters have arrived to find a completely ablaze residential house on Willis Street.
The besieged crews worked quickly to protect neighboring homes, and within minutes of their arrival the worst was over. Quesnel RCMP said they arrested a woman from Quesnel for arson related to the blaze.
“(The crews) were able to demolish it quickly and prevent damage to neighboring houses,” Richert said. “They had the fire extinguished in no time. “
Even when the Willis Street fire was extinguished, the orange glow of the lumber yard fire was visible on the horizon for onlookers.
Richert said the fire in the lumber yard burned intensely until about 2 a.m. and went out somewhat the next morning. It wouldn’t be completely off until Thursday, November 11.
Richert added that the blaze had accelerated previous plans for firefighters in the area to train together to better cooperate in mutual aid situations.