The Deka Lake and District Volunteer Fire Department was given a standing ovation Thursday by residents returning home after evacuation.
The Deka Lake and Judson Road residents were gathered at an evacuation/re-entry meeting at the fire hall, hosted by the fire department and Cariboo Regional District. The meeting – held exactly one week after the community was evacuated due to wildfire – was aimed at providing residents with the latest information on the fire situation as well as what they needed to do to stay prepared if necessary.
The 650-hectare fire is now listed as being held.
“This is good news,” CRD Chair Margo Wagner said. “You’re all heading home with no structures lost and no lives lost.”
Fire Chief Al Boyce credited the community with coming forward to help – from the Ladies Auxiliary feeding up to 50 people to the CRD, BC Wildfire Service and the local fire department and 100 Fire Rescue providing early sprinkling protection and patrols. He also thanked people in the surrounding area and District of 100 Mile for keeping firefighters fed and hydrated.
“It’s been a rather emotional tense few days,” Boyce said. “The Deka Lake and District Volunteer Fire Department really shined through this. They’ve gone above and beyond.”
READ MORE: Deka Lake residents can return home
100 Mile Mayor Mitch Campsall also credited the fire crew, saying they are “second to none.
“We’re very lucky we got a community – the South Cariboo. We all work together to make life better.”
Both Campsall and Wagner urged residents to seek help if they need it, noting there could be mental health issues and there is help available. “Don’t wait too long. Seek it out if you need it,” Campsall said.
Residents were also encouraged to firesmart their properties.
Hugh Murdoch, an incident management commander who was also involved in the 2017 wildfires, noted the record temperatures have affected all of Canada, and there is a “real resource shortage.” He noted firefighters are still working on the Deka fire, but the highest priority now is the fire south of Canim Lake.
Other speakers included Liz Jones, of Emergency Support Services, Stephanie Masun, CRD’s manager of emergency planning and Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Lorne Doerkson.