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‘We’ve got a monster sitting above our town’: Sicamous fire chief on day 3 of Two Mile Road wildfire

Sicamous firefighters, BC Wildfire Service awaiting more resources
As of Thursday morning, July 22, the Two Mile Road fire south of Sicamous was at 800 hectares, prompting a new evacuation alert for Swansea Point. (CSRD photo)

Sicamous Fire Chief Brett Ogino doesn’t see local evacuation orders and alerts being rescinded any time soon.

On the morning of July 22, his third day of fighting the Two Mile Road wildfire that has expanded to approximately 800 hectares, Ogino didn’t mince words about the seriousness of the fire or his concerns for nearby communities.

“We’ve got a monster sitting above our town and we don’t really want people to think it’s time to come back home, because it’s not,” said Ogino, explaining there’s already been some pressure from people on evacuation wanting to return home. “It’s quite a large fire, it’s still definitely out of control, and we are concerned for sure.”

The evening prior, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District issued an evacuation alert for the community of Swansea Point, south of Sicamous. Ogino said firefighters have been working on structure protection there, while similar efforts continue at the fire’s north end.

“A lot of it for the fire department is protecting our structures, expanding on our structure protection work, making sure any hot spots are being dealt with very quickly – so there’s a lot of patrols by our crews,” said Ogino. “The BC Wildfire Service is trying to reinforce their guards and put in some new guards to help corral the fire, keep it from crossing Sicamous Creek. That’s an objective I believe they’re working on.”

Ogino said guards already in place on the north end held over the night, and he credited a structural protection crew from the Vernon Fire Department working on it.

Read more: Shuswap rallies around Sicamous evacuees, firefighters amid Two Mile Road wildfire

Read more: UPDATE: Tactical evacuation complete for 39 people in Seymour Arm

“They’ve been very diligent about not letting it cross,” said Ogino.

Assisting Sicamous on July 22 were firefighters from Ranchero-Deep Creek and an industrial fire brigade from New Afton.

“We have some more resources hopefully coming in the next day or so as well,” said Ogino, adding the BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) is looking for more resources as well. He said just helicopters were working on the fire Thursday, as the BCWS needed more resources at Seymour Arm, where the Hunakwa Lake fire, at 1,100 hectares, had triggered a tactical evacuation order earlier that morning.

“It’s all a bit of a juggling match with the resources for fire, for structural fire, for BC Wildfire. A lot of stuff going on in the province, that’s for sure,” said Ogino.

As for Sicamous and Swansea Point, Ogino said the evacuation orders and alerts in place are still valid, and he stressed the firefighting work ahead is going to take some time.

“It’s an alert right now (Swansea Point) because it is a slow creeping fire, but people that need to get out should be getting out already,” said Ogino.
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