Top news story of the year: Wildfire sweeps across South Cariboo

A helicopter collects water at Canim Lake to help battle a nearby fire July 8. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press).A helicopter collects water at Canim Lake to help battle a nearby fire July 8. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press).
BC Wildfire Service responds to a fire on Watch Lake Road June 30. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)BC Wildfire Service responds to a fire on Watch Lake Road June 30. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Tyler Faulkner gets his second and final COVID-19 vaccine shot from Interior Health nurse Agnes De Chavez at the Northwest Vaxmobile on Tuesday, June 22. Faulkner said he saw the clinic online and figured the sooner he was immunized the better. The Vaxmobile is part of IH’s ongoing efforts to vaccinate as many people as possible born before 2009 and will be coming through 100 Mile House again in July.(Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Tyler Faulkner gets his second and final COVID-19 vaccine shot from Interior Health nurse Agnes De Chavez at the Northwest Vaxmobile on Tuesday, June 22. Faulkner said he saw the clinic online and figured the sooner he was immunized the better. The Vaxmobile is part of IH’s ongoing efforts to vaccinate as many people as possible born before 2009 and will be coming through 100 Mile House again in July.(Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Barb Archie and Joanne Dick held signs thanking the truckers for their support of Indigenous peoples impacted by the revelation 215 children were buried on the Kamloops Residental School grounds (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Barb Archie and Joanne Dick held signs thanking the truckers for their support of Indigenous peoples impacted by the revelation 215 children were buried on the Kamloops Residental School grounds (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Isabel Jones, who worked at the Red Coach Inn for years, would like to see the inn restored to at least part of its former glory. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press).Isabel Jones, who worked at the Red Coach Inn for years, would like to see the inn restored to at least part of its former glory. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press).
Jamie Henyu (centre) led the walk from Whitehorse down to their ultimate goal of the Kamloops Indian Residental School. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)Jamie Henyu (centre) led the walk from Whitehorse down to their ultimate goal of the Kamloops Indian Residental School. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Conservative candidate Frank Caputo looks at results on a smartphone with his campaign manager Andrew Sahaydak (left) and Caputo’s wife Odette Dempsey on Election night outside his campaign office on Seymour Street. (Dave Eagles photo - KTW)Conservative candidate Frank Caputo looks at results on a smartphone with his campaign manager Andrew Sahaydak (left) and Caputo’s wife Odette Dempsey on Election night outside his campaign office on Seymour Street. (Dave Eagles photo - KTW)

In the midst of COVID-19, wildfires swept across the South Cariboo this summer, burning 129,591 hectares across the region. Almost every community was evacuated or on alert as firefighters battled increasingly aggressive wildfires that came on the heels of a significant heat dome.

At the Emergency Social Services in 100 Mile, volunteers provided 72-hour support and follow-up to 1,178 evacuees plus 125 kids from Deka Lake, Lytton, Egan Lake, Sparks Lake, 70 Mile, Flat Lake, Canim Lake, Falkland, Logan Lake and Lower Nicola, according to ESS director Liz Jones. About $318,153.33 was spent providing evacuees with lodging, billeting, food, incidentals and clothing. The threat of more aggressive wildfires to come has prompted many fire departments to consider more wildland training for their crews.

COVID-19 immunization starts in 100 Mile

Frontline healthcare workers were the first people in 100 Mile House to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The BC Centre for Disease Control received the Moderna vaccine and forwarded it directly to rural and remote communities. First to receive it after healthcare workers were residents, staff and essential visitors of long-term care facilities and First Nations communities.

Jan. 7, 2021

Canim Lake Band remains in lockdown

The Canim Lake band remained under lockdown following the declaration of a COVID-19 outbreak. Multiple healthcare agencies came together to support the community after 45 cases were identified. Dr. Silvina Mema said they were working to protect Elders and planned to bring the vaccine to the community as soon as possible. Canim Lake Band Chief Helen Henderson said the band was doing everything to stop the spread of COVID-19 and support the community with food, security, firewood and prescriptions. “Our main priority in our lockdown is to keep people home,” she said.

Jan. 14, 2021

Real estate still in hot demand

South Cariboo real estate prices continued to prove a hot commodity. Royal LePage 100 Mile Realty sold $14-million worth of property in January, compared with $4 million in 2020, broker-manager Ron Kelly said. David Jurek of RE/MAX 100 Mile House said business was already up threefold from a regular year. In Clinton meanwhile, demand was starting to outstrip supply. Kelly attributed the influx of buyers to retirees and other people fleeing the big cities in favour of a smaller community. The only concern that Bolster, Jurek and Kelly had was the prospect of running out of properties to sell.

Feb. 11, 2021

Two suspects arrested after highway chase

After leading RCMP on a high-speed chase from Clinton through 100 Mile House a couple was arrested just south of Williams Lake. The chase began after the couple was reported for attempted break-and-enter south of Clinton. When Clinton RCMP confronted the couple, a shot was fired and the chase was on, with the truck exceeding 120 kms/hr at one point. 100 Mile House RCMP put the community on lockdown. The truck dodged a spike belt near 93 Mile and was seen speeding through town on one of its tires’ rims. After hitting another spike belt near 140 Mile and sliding into a ditch, several officers surrounded the car and arrested the occupants.

March 4, 2021

Teacher charged with child exploitation

A Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School drama teacher was charged with child exploitation. Vince Collins was arrested on his way to work April. 8 by 100 Mile House RCMP officers following allegations made by a female youth. Staff Sgt. Svend Nielsen said the arrest came due to a “fast-moving investigation.” Collins was released pending trial following a bail hearing the following week. The allegations have not yet been proven in court.

April 15, 2021

Construction soars amid high lumber costs

South Cariboo builders are busier than ever, despite a quadrupling of lumber prices over last year. Some contractors in the region are booked for the entire year – scheduling into 2022 for new home builds – as the demand for housing in the region continues to climb. Contractor Gordon Ross said both labour and building supplies are becoming harder to come by. Lumber prices had risen over the previous six months from US$600 per thousand board feet to an all-time high of US $1,700 in early May.

May 27, 2021

Band drums up support for truckers

A dozen drummers members of the Tsq’escenemc (Canim Lake Band) stood on the side of Highway 97 outside the South Cariboo Visitor Centre, playing traditional songs, to support a trucker convoy heading to Kamloops to honour the 215 children whose remains were found buried below the Kamloops Indian Residential School. The event was organized by Joseph Archie, Canim Lake’s cultural enrichment worker. 100 Mile District Mayor Mitch Campsall and Canim Lake Chief Helen Henderson were both in attendance. “The tears flow freely now, and when I see non-Indigenous humans reach out and show their support to all Secwepemc in such a public way, (it) means a lot to us as Secwempec people,” Henderson said.

June 10, 2021

Council chambers open as ‘cooling station’

The District of 100 Mile House opened its council chambers to the public, following record-breaking heat across the South Cariboo that sent residents scrambling for relief. Temperatures in the 100 Mile House area smashed previous records set in 2015 – the new record of 39.5 C was measured at the Clinton weather station Sunday, well above the 32.8 C previous record. Local hardware stores were sold out of fans and air-conditioning units. Elsewhere around the province, close to 60 temperature records were broken this week, many by upwards of seven degrees. Lytton broke Canada’s all-time heat record twice, topping out at 47.5 C on Monday afternoon.

July 1, 2021

Warriors walk for healing

A 2,300-kilometre journey was nearing its end for the Warrior Walkers. The walkers, led by Jamie Henyu of Tahltan people, arrived in 100 Mile House as part of their trek from Whitehorse to the Kamloops Indian Residental School. Henyu started the walk on June 26 after receiving a vision telling him to honour the 215 children found buried on the school grounds. More bodies have since been uncovered at schools across the country. The 16 walkers briefly stopped traffic on Highway 97 near the Tim Horton’s intersection, where they sang, danced and drummed.The group was then met at the South Cariboo Visitor Centre by elders and members of the Canim Lake Band doing their own drumming.

Aug. 12, 2021

Conservatives keep grip on riding

The federal Conservatives kept their grip on the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo riding with Frank Caputo beating the NDP’s Bill Sundhu by more than 9,000 votes to succeed Cathy McLeod as the new Member of Parliament. Preliminary results showed Caputo, 42, had collected 27,597 in-person votes, or 42.9 per cent, followed by Sundu with 18,681 votes, or 28.9 per cent. Liberal candidate Jesse McCormick was in third place, followed by Corally Delwo, of the People’s Party of Canada, the Greens’ Iain Currie and Independents Bob O’Brien and Wayne Allan. Caputo said he was “humbled and honoured” to be the riding’s next Member of Parliament.

Sept. 23, 2021

Flukey tires smashes into 70 Mile home

Calls were renewed to reduce the speed limit on Highway 97 near 70 Mile House after a rogue tire flew off the highway and smashed through a family’s dining room window, narrowly missing two people. Brian Jones was outside his home at about 11:45 a.m Sept. 30 when he heard a massive bang and saw a tire and rim flying through the air. It smashed through the double-paned glass of his dining room before hurtling through the living room, where his wife Veronica and 10-year-old grandson S.J. were watching TV. It happened so fast that Veronica said she didn’t even see the tire bounce between them, punch a hole in the back wall and ricochet to the end of the couch. Nobody claimed the tire and the couple suspected it came off a trailer travelling at high speeds.

Oct. 7, 2021

Red Coach Inn slated for renos: owner

The owner of the Red Coach Inn said he intended to start renovations next spring on the historic hotel. Joseph Carhoun told the Free Press that he planned to spend between $300,000 and $500,000 in 2022 to upgrade the 50-room hotel, which has fallen into unsightly disrepair. The move comes as the District of 100 Mile House continues to investigate what could be done to address the unsightly premises. Several residents have lamented on social media about the destruction of the one-time “jewel” of 100 Mile House, which was originally owned by the faith-based Emissaries of Divine Light before they sold it in 2005. The listing price was $1.5 million.

Dec. 2, 2021

Arena offers livestreaming services

A new livestreaming service is up and running at the South Cariboo Rec Centre, allowing spectators to virtually watch minor hockey and other community events at the arena. The technology, first installed at the end of summer, is part of an $87,000 audio and visual upgrade funded by the Cariboo Regional District.

Dec. 9, 2021

Firefighters concerned about mandate

Some volunteer firefighters in the South Cariboo are speaking out about what they’re calling a “hasty” decision by the Cariboo Regional District to impose COVID-19 vaccinations on volunteer fire department members. More than 50 community members, including firefighters, turned out for a meeting, to discuss and the mandate and how to push back against it. One of the main concerns is the impact the mandate could have on staffing at the various halls if firefighters choose not to get vaccinated. The CRD policy, which takes effect mid-January, applies to all staff, employees, volunteers and directors of the CRD board.

Dec. 16, 2021

Speed-reader signs coming to Lac La Hache

Lighted speed-reader signs are on their way to Highway 97 in Lac La Hache, aimed at improving road safety along the town’s corridor. The new signs are set to be installed on either end of the stretch of highway where the speed drops to 60 km/h, after a grant request was approved earlier this month by the Cariboo Regional District. The cost of the signs are estimated at $12.000.

Dec. 23, 2021

Fire truck crammed with food for needy

100 Mile shoppers didn’t only cram a cruiser full of Food Bank donations but will fill the cab of a fire truck as well. RCMP Staff Sgt. Svend Nielsen said a steady stream of shoppers dropped by the annual Cram the Cruiser event outside Save-On-Foods and FreshCo, and estimated they had raised more than $5,000 in cash donations as well. “We had tremendous support from the community,” he said.

Dec. 23, 2021

‘Critical’ work planned for South Canim

Fire mitigation efforts in the South Canim Lake area affected by a large wildfire this past summer are being coordinated by forestry officials and contractors. Canim Lake Band members will be clearing the logs that were cut to make a firebreak during the wildfire in order to give access the area for the mitigation work, which will be carried out by contractors and consultants, according to Margo Wagner, a Cariboo Regional District director for Forest Grove-Canim Lake. The work is intended to restore parts of the hillside that were affected by the wildfires, which burned more than 2,500 hectares in that area.

Dec. 23, 2021

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