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Robert Barron column: Firefighters do good work

Yet they went to work and had the fire put out within two hours
Robert’s column

A big shout out to our firefighters who have been holding the line during one of the worst droughts and fire seasons in the province’s history.

They’ve been working extremely hard these days and risking their lives to keep the rest of us safe from the wildfires that are ravaging the interior of the province, as well as structural and other fires in their own communities.

The picture of volunteer firefighter John Lampard, from North Cowichan’s South End fire hall, working to extinguish hot spots around the wildfires that were threatening West Kelowna that was on front of the Aug. 24 edition of the newspaper says it all.

Lampard, who regularly works as a teacher here in the Cowichan Valley, sacrificed a part of his summer to head to the Kelowna area, along with local colleagues, and put his firefighting skills to the test in the extreme heat and smoke around the wildfires.

The temperatures in that area of the province at the time were also in the mid 30s just to add to Lampard’s discomfort, and in the picture he’s wearing heavy protective fire gear so you know this certainly was not fun work.

Dozens of other unnamed firefighters from a number of Cowichan’s fire halls also answered the call to head to the Interior to help out, and are being rotated in and out on an ongoing basis until the situation there improves.

Kudos to all of them.

I was also impressed with how quickly a fire crew responded to a wildfire in the Cowichan Valley, the first and hopefully the last one for the season around here, that was likely caused by a lightning strike from the thunderstorm that went through the area on Aug. 28.

Apparently, that fire, which was reported in an unpopulated area around Meade Creek near Cowichan Lake, was only approximately 0.01 hectares in size and likely just getting going when a five-person fire crew and equipment quickly descended on it and had it out in just a few hours.

Who knows what might have happened if that fire crew didn’t respond so fast?

I expect Cowichan’s firefighters in the Interior would have had to come home to help deal with that wildfire while many local residents faced the fear of losing their homes, properties and even their lives; the same fears that those in the Interior and in the Northwest Territories have been facing all summer.

Then there’s the North Cowichan fire crews who were called out of their beds and away from their loved ones to deal with a huge blaze on Beverly Street in the very early hours of Aug. 27.

The fire appears to have started among a stacked wood pile in a storage yard and by the time fire crews from a number of North Cowichan fire halls arrived at approximately 2:30 a.m. that morning, the flames were shooting more than 20 feet in the air.

The fire was also less than 20 feet away from an Esso gas station, and its exposed gas pumps.

In a picture taken by Jasmine Totzke, who works as a healthcare assistant at The Hamlets at Duncan, that she generously shared with us, you can see three firefighters and a firetruck in the small distance between the gas pumps and the fire, and I had to wonder how brave these people must be to willingly put themselves in such a precarious and dangerous position.

Yet they went to work and had the fire put out within two hours.

It’s scary work, yet these people do it every day without complaint.

Totzke said that with all of the fires currently burning in B.C, and how dry it is currently on Vancouver Island, the fire could have turned out to be much worse if it wasn’t for the quick attention it received from the North Cowichan fire department.

“Thank you to the brave men and women who put their own lives at risk to make sure that everyone in the area was safe that night,” she said.

Ditto to that.

Robert Barron

About the Author: Robert Barron

Since 2016, I've had had the pleasure of working with our dedicated staff and community in the Cowichan Valley.
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