Quick action, teamwork and preparation snuff wildfire in Merritt | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Quick action, teamwork and preparation snuff wildfire in Merritt

A fish transport truck full of water used to snuff out a wildfire in Merritt with help from locals and BC Wildfire services.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Alex Chila
August 07, 2021 - 10:28 AM

The quick action and collaboration of community members in Merritt prevented what could have been another major fire in the region.

When a fire broke out in a farmer’s field near a fish hatchery in Merritt earlier this week, the staff at the Spius Creek Hatchery arrived on the scene with tools and tanks of water they had set up in preparation for any unexpected fire activity.

Operations Manager Alex Chila saw the smoke as he was driving from town after filling up tidy tanks.

“I saw the smoke down the road from the hatchery,” Chila said. “We had our fish transport truck sitting ready with water, pumps and hoses. I grabbed our manager and headed to the fire with fellow staff. The fire was still small but spreading quickly through the grass in the nearby farmer's field.”

Chila said the equipment they had was not in great shape. He said they were relieved when the Lower Nicola Fire Department showed up and started spraying down the flames.

“We were doing our best but we don’t have much practice and we were having pump issues,” he said. “Locals started showing up to help put out hot spots and 20 minutes later a helicopter with B.C. Wildfire showed up and dropped buckets on it. Shortly after that, B.C. Wildfire crews showed up and took it from there.”

Chila said he learned from the experience to always be prepared for wildfires and to do regular maintenance checks on equipment. He intends to take a basic firefighting course in the future.

“We are not trained firefighters and I don’t suggest people jump onto fires when they are not trained,” he said. “But in this case we got to it when it was still very small. It was moving into the farmer’s field and getting close to a patch of trees along the river. The hatchery wasn’t in immediate danger but it was close enough. It was awesome to see everyone there so quickly and working together.”

The Spius Creek Hatchery is governed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Chila's comments do not reflect those of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

The community of Merritt pulled together last month to herd over 100 cows due to the threat of the Lytton Creek wildfire.

The cause of the fire is currently unknown.

     READ MORE: Ranchers answer the call to move herd of cattle in path of Lytton Creek wildfire

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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