KAMLOOPS — This summer's historic wildfire season in B.C. was devastating.
More than 1.2 million hectares burned across the province. Within the TNRD, 215 structures were destroyed, including the Loon Lake Volunteer Fire Hall. The wreckage is gone, but the rebuild has yet to begin.
"We have the site cleared and ready for building. We're still waiting on the insurance company to come back to us," said deputy volunteer fire chief Ted Crawford. "Right now, we've arranged for two of the trucks to be put in separate storage for the winter because we won't be finished building before spring."
Since fire swept through in July, the community has fundraised tens of thousands of dollars to help in the rebuild. On Friday, Loon Lake received another $12,000 from the Lions Clubs across B.C. and Alberta.
"It's awesome," said Crawford. "We can't thank the people enough for the help we're getting from all over B.C."
Also receiving $12,000 apiece from the Lions Clubs are the Ashcroft and Cache Creek Fire Departments.
"It's from the heart that we thank these firefighters, RCMP, Ambulance Services, on what they did to protect us. It's amazing," noted President of the Ashcroft & District Lions Club Darlene Daily.
For the Ashcroft Fire Department, which has a healthy wish list, the donation is welcome news.
"It opens up some more opportunities for us. We got a new engine last year, and there's some equipment we'd really like to get on that truck. Perhaps a thermal imaging camera," said Ashcroft fire chief Josh White.
The Ashcroft Fire Department played a vital role in the early stages of the Elephant Hill wildfire when it ignited on the Ashcroft Reserve on July 6.
"We didn't have the resources to take on a fire of that magnitude, that size," said White. "It was so aggressive and so fast-moving. It just caught us."
As the fire moved north to Cache Creek the next day on July 7 that fire department held down the fort while residents there were evacuated. Cache Creek, too, will be the recipients of a $12,000 cheque.
"While the community was evacuated, the entire volunteer fire department stayed in the community," said mayor of Cache Creek John Ranta. "They patrolled 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They put out numerous spot fire that would've turned into bigger problems if they hadn't been there. We actually wore out the service truck they were using. It needs to be replaced now."
Everyone is so thankful. The Lions Clubs for all the firefighting efforts, and the firefighters for the generous donations to compensate for a wildfire season we won't soon forget.
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