A third of the BCWS crew had returned last week. [L-R] Dylan White, Ryan Skinner, Mariah Chapman, Matt Solecki, JR LeCourt and Cole Bender. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)

A third of the BCWS crew had returned last week. [L-R] Dylan White, Ryan Skinner, Mariah Chapman, Matt Solecki, JR LeCourt and Cole Bender. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)

BC Wildfire Service crew starts returning to Burns Lake

Will continue following COVID protocols as per provincial health orders

The BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) crew in Burns Lake is slowly returning to the village.

This year, the crew is returning over three dates. The first was on Mar. 1 when a third of the crew returned, next was on Apr. 6 and the final return date is on May 3. That’s when the entire crew will be back to the town. This year, there will be a total of 27 crew members in Burns Lake and 10 in Houston.

The Burns Lake and Houston BCWS is known as the Nadina Fire Zone and covers a large area from Endako to Hungry Hill between Houston and Telkwa and Tweedsmuir Park in the south to the top of Babine Lake in the North.

As crews return, they will have to do their annual fitness testing which is happening this week in Burns Lake and again in May. The training will happen throughout the months of April and May.

Since all the crew members are returning members from within B.C., they are not required to quarantine or self-isolate as per the provincial guidelines.

In the past, the Burns Lake BCWS crew has not only fought fires in the community but have also gone to various other communities to fight fires. In 2019, they were sent to Cassiar, northern Alberta and Yukon. However last year due to the pandemic, travelling to fight fires elsewhere in the region wasn’t top of the list for the crews.

A lot of the work for the BCWS in Burns Lake in the first half of last year was for recreation sites, trails and other community projects such as improving some of the fuel management and hazard mitigation around the community. They also did a lot of work to help out local community organizations such as the Omineca Ski Club, Ride Burns, the Houston Bike Club and the Houston Hikers’ Association and also certain things such as brushing out weather stations for the local government agencies.

However, in September, the BCWS crew from Burns Lake and Houston were sent to fight the wildfires down south in California, United States along with several other crews from the province. Of the 20 firefighters sent from the North, 13 were from the Burns Lake and Houston crew.

It is still early to tell as what the season would look like for the crew and with the pandemic, the travel restrictions would continue to be in place unless the crew is required to travel like last year. There also are no mandates on vaccinations for the crew yet however, with the village of Burns Lake and District of Houston both opening up vaccination for all age groups, the crew will now be eligible to get their vaccines if they choose to get it.

“Nothing has really changed from last year, we will be doing the annual training and we will continue to conform with the COVID protocols,” said Brad Blackwell, the zone wildfire officer.

Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist


Like us on Facebook and follows us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has suspended indoor dining at restaurants and pubs until at least April 19 in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. sets new COVID-19 daily record with 1,293 cases Thursday

New order allows workplace closures when infections found

The new 3,500 hectare conservancy in Tahltan territory is located next to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (BC Parks Photo)
New conservancy protects sacred Tahltan land near Mount Edziza Provincial Park

Project is a collaboration between Skeena Resources, conservation groups and the TCG

Mabel Todd, 83, of the Nak’azdli First Nation, leads a group of family members and advocates of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls as they walk along the so-called Highway of Tears in Moricetown, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Province, feds fund full cell service along ‘Highway of Tears’ following years of advocacy

A ‘critical milestone in helping prevent future tragedies’ after at least 10 Indigenous women murdered, missing along the route

Erin O’Toole, Conservative Party of Canada leader, answered questions during a Terrace District Chamber of Commerce event on April 6, 2021. (Screenshot/Terrace District Chamber of Commerce Facebook)
Erin O’Toole discusses Terrace issues during virtual event

Federal Conservative leader answered questions during a Terrace & District Chamber of Commerce event

Tree; Burns Lake library. (Laura Blackwell photo/Lakes District News)
Dragon Tree christened

The Burns Lake Public Library contest for dragon and tree names has… Continue reading

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, Friday, January 15, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s ICUs see near-record of COVID-19 patients last week as variant cases double

Last week, Canadian hospitals treated an average of 2,500 patients with COVID-19, daily, up 7% from the previous week

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

Lily Copeland alleges coach Barney Williams would stand close to her and speak aggressively in the sauna

Librarian Katie Burns with the Fraser Valley Regional Libraries poses for a photo in Chilliwack on June 18, 2019. Monday, April 12, 2021 is Library Workers’ Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 11 to 17

Library Workers Day, That Sucks! Day, and Wear Your Pyjamas to Work Day are all coming up this week

Robinson Russ, 37, was fatally stabbed on April 4, according to a statement from police. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police name victim following city’s fourth homicide of 2021

Robinson Russ, 37, was fatally stabbed Sunday in the Downtown Eastside

Most Read