Retiring wildfire officer Chris Betuzzi. (Max Winkelman - 100 Mile Free Press)

100 Mile House wildfire officer retires

Chris Betuzzi worked for the provincial government for over 40 years

After 41 years of service to the provincial government, the last 20 of which as the wildfire officer for the 100 Mile House fire zone, Chris Betuzzi is retiring. During that 41 years, he’s also worked as a wildfire technician, silviculture technician and for the Ministry of Agriculture.

“It’s been a wonderful career really. I enjoyed the ride. It was time to retire, let someone else take over the reins, but it’s been a great career. I’m glad I was able to contribute to the well-being of the province over the years.”

On average B.C. experiences about 2,000 wildfires per year, so over the course of nearly 40 years involved in wildfires, that’s about 80,000 fires in the province during his time with the B.C. Government, he says. People might be surprised to learn that while people cause a lot of wildfires, about 60 per cent are caused by lightning, he adds.

“My responsibility was to be prepared for the wildfires in the area and our geopgraphic area extends from just south of Clinton north to 132 Mile, west to the Fraser River and then it went as far east as just this side of Wells Gray Park,” he says, adding that includes making sure crews are properly trained, have enough heavy equipment and work with the fire departments and stakeholders (such as First Nations) in the area.

“I was quite proud to be a member of the provincial government but the job was quite enjoyable over the years.”

In that role, he’s worked both in the local area but also in other jurisdictions.

“There’s not one location in B.C. that would have enough resources for a busy time of year. So we’re very mobile. We move around a lot.”

He pointed to helping other jurisdictions such as Alberta, Ontario and Washington state as one of the highlights of his career. He made note of a fire just outside of Lillooet in 2009.

“We did a burn at two o’clock in the morning because that was the ideal time when the winds had calmed down. I was about seven kilometres away at the airport directing the burn. The burn was going so well moving the fire away from town, no structures were lost and yet it was such a hot fire that I could read a book seven kilometres away.”

A big part of the job is interacting with co-workers and the public, he says, but notes that the approach in some ways is changing a little bit.

“The way our forests have evolved over say the last 100 years, in some respects, operationally we got too good at our jobs. We were putting out all the fires and what that’s created is heavy fuel loading in a lot of the forests. So not only was 2017, 2018 very dry in a good part of the province but all that fueled forest, the branches, twigs and trees, it’s all available fuel. So moving forward one of the great initiatives that the provincial government has taken, even around this area, is to proactively reduce the fuel load on the crown land.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


Chris Betuzzi early on in his career. (Submitted photo)

Just Posted

Volunteering ‘best way to expand your bubble’

Val Severin serves the community as a way to give back

Old Timers Hockey league seeks players

The Old Timers Hockey Association is looking for players and increased community… Continue reading

Work begins on Clinton seniors’ living facility

Work has recently begun on a 20-bed seniors’ living facility in Clinton.

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

Two new COVID-19 cases reported in Interior Health

The total number of Interior Health cases since the beginning of the pandemic is now at 522

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

2 British Columbians arrested, 3 at large in massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Most Read