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Pumper truck tumbles down an 80-metre escarpment in BC - 5 firefighters injured

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  • Pumper truck tumbles down an 80-metre escarpment in BC - 5 firefighters injured

    I decided to post this in the Firefighting Forum because I know a lot of people don't read the forums where NJ and I have been posting updates on the horrendous fire situation in BC and Alberta this summer. Thank goodness these 5 firefighters were not seriously injured. Best wishes for a speedy recovery to the 2 firefighters still in the hospital. I will start another thread honouring the pilots.

    The firefighters who have been fighting these forest fires all summer deserve a HUGE THANK YOU for all they have done. They have faced what they have NEVER faced before. And to be back fighting to save your city hours after you have lost your own home is nothing short of amazing. Hats off to all involved in the BC fires in Kelowna, Kamloops area, Chase, Cranbrook and the Crowsnest pass in Alberta!

    Cranbrook students start school year under plans for emergency evacuation


    CRANBROOK, B.C. (CP) - As pilots dribble burning napalm on nearby forests as a protective tactic, students starting the school year Tuesday will receive plans for emergency evacuations of homes and schools.

    All 3,600 Cranbrook students will be handed a newsletter telling parents about disaster plans in case of a widespread evacuation of area schools and homes due to a nearby forest fire. "We have looked at a lot of different scenarios surrounding the fire and have plans in place for each of those circumstances," Ron Allen, superintendent of the southeast Kootenay school district, said Monday.

    "We want school to go ahead because there's so much disruption now from the fires and it's important to have some routine in the students' lives."

    One plan is if the fire is rapidly approaching the city, students and residents will be asked to immediately go to a disaster evacuee centre to receive further instructions, Allen said.

    About 500 firefighters are battling the uncontained and uncontrolled Lamb Creek blaze, which has consumed 110 square kilometres, about 15 kilometres southwest of Cranbrook.

    About 175 nearby residents forced from their homes two weeks ago remain evacuated and another 1,000 people are on evacuation alert, which means they must leave their homes on a moment's notice. Those residents live southwest of the city and none of the 18,000 Cranbrook residents have received evacuation orders or notices.

    Another plan is in place for students living in the evacuation-alert area. If their families are ordered by the province to evacuate, they are to stay at school until a parent picks them up, Allen said.

    The schools will have counsellors on hand for students who are anxious about the threatening blaze, Allen said.

    For the 1,000 students who ride on 14 buses to Cranbrook schools, there are plans in case smoke shrouds the highways and it becomes too dangerous for them to be on the road.

    "They will be told to stay at home until further notice," Allen said.

    There are 10 public schools in Cranbrook - seven elementary schools, two junior high schools and one high school.

    Linda Botterill, a teacher and an evacuee of her nearby Monroe Lake home, said she is looking forward to going back to school, instead of sitting in a hotel room where she has stayed with her husband for the past two weeks.

    "My boss said I could take a few of days off it I needed it, but I think it would be good to go back just for some normality," said Botterill, who was allowed to return home for two hours last Saturday to pick up clean clothes and throw out spoiled food from her refrigerator after the electricity was off for a few days.

    Despite stronger winds, the nearby fire grew only a few square kilometres in the past few days. Fire officials say that's because since the fire started two weeks ago, fire crews have been busy building fireguards, waterbombing hotspots and strategically burning tinder dry forests, especially the moss and pine needles, which is often called fire "fuel."

    Brian Dougherty, a pilot who has fought 33 fires in southern B.C. this summer, said he and other helicopter pilots are torching some areas by flying along the fireguards and dripping burning napalm.

    The napalm, a jellied gasoline, sits in 200-litre drums suspended five metres below the helicopters and when it is released it is ignited by a constantly burning flame.

    "I've lit a lot of fires this season that way," he said.

    Bob Pfannenschmidt, the incident commander of the Cranbrook area fires, said it's an efficient way of torching the forest.

    "You want a wall of fire and the only way to do that quick enough is to do it with an aircraft," said Pfannenschmidt, who has burned about six square kilometres in this area, thereby earning the name Pyro Bob.

    "It's part of the art of burning, it is a definite art," he said.

    Pfannenschmidt concedes that it's dangerous work, particularly if the wind whips up and changes direction.

    "There's always some risk to doing that but the risk is to more trees not to personnel," he said, adding that ground fire crews are cleared from the areas they are torching.

    There are more than 750 fires burning throughout British Columbia.

    After a fire was fanned by strong winds in the Creston, B.C., area Sunday, the B.C. Fire Commissioner's office put some 100 residents in the Kootenay Lake East area on evacuation alert.

    All but 70 of the 3,000 evacuees of the Okanagan Mountain fire near Kelowna are back in their homes. Officials said they don't know when those residents can return home.

    Preliminary damage estimates for that blaze, which razed about 230 homes in and near Kelowna 10 days ago, indicate the insurance payouts will easily surpass $100 million.

    A $92.5 million estimate is for about 215 homes and doesn't include lost possessions.

    That fire, which for several days has been 70 per cent contained, is being fanned by robust winds and is moving away from Kelowna toward the historic Kettle Valley Railway.

    The B.C. government has ordered campers and hikers out of 40 provincial parks and the backcountry for the next two weeks, hoping the forest will get a reprieve from fires.

    B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell has also extended the provincewide state of emergency until mid-September.

    The ban covers one-third of the lower province, stretching from Vancouver Island to Alberta. If caught in a restricted area, violators could be slapped with fines of up to $10,000 and six months in jail.

    The Okanagan Mountain fire is about twice the size of Cranbrook's Lamb Creek.

    Five firefighters from Langford B.C., working on the south end of the Okanagan Mountain fire near Naramata, were sent to hospital Saturday night after their pumper truck tumbled down an 80-metre escarpment.

    The pumper had pulled over so other vehicles could pass it when a wheel slid off the shoulder.

    Two firefighters in the Kelowna District Hospital are listed in stable condition, while three other men were released with minor injuries.

    The Canadian Press, 2003

    09/1/2003 22:29 EST
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Honorary Flatlander


  • #2
    Thanks forthe update, I had heard about the accident and was tring to find out what was up and if all were OK,

    Thanks Again


    • #3
      You're welcome neighbour. I didn't even know about it until I read this article this morning.

      If I hear more I'll let you know.

      Stay Safe!
      September 11th - Never Forget

      I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

      Honorary Flatlander



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