is about a remote area in west central British Columbia, Canada
called the West Chilcotin. Surrounded by numerous glacial mountain
ranges, alpine lakes teeming with wild Rainbow Trout, and full
of wildlife. Living here goes from no running water or electricity
to spacious log homes with all the conveniences and without
Wilderness Adventures - July, Week 3/2010
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far we have been really lucky with forest fires.
Williams Lake has literally been surrounded by forest
fires, several of which are at Meldrum Creek where
my nephew helps on a ranch for the owner. He and another
rancher located a spot fire there days ago and informed
the Cariboo Fire Center several times of it. They
were ignored so they went out with what little
equipment they could use and attempted to put a fire guard
around it but as the fire grew bigger and the guard seemed
inadequate, they again informed the fire center. Finally
a unit crew came out but the leader said it was too small
to bother with and they had other priorities.
A young guy on the crew insisted that using a pump they
could action it and probably have it out in less than
half an hour but the leader insisted it wasn't worth it,
which is nuts because if you go that far out to the area,
why not action it? My nephew and the other rancher asked
if they would leave a pump and hose and they would put
the fire out. The unit crew refused the request. As I
understand it, the fire is now one of three huge
ones threatening three ranches in the vicinity.
It sounds pretty typical. It doesn't seem that the CFC
has any of the resources in the region that you would
normally expect in such an extremely dry year.
Because of the several different fires in the Margarite,
Mcleese Lake, Alexandria, Meldrum and Soda Creek area
north of Williams Lake, native reserves in the area have
been evacuated. There is also a fire in 140 Mile south
of Williams Lake and numerous fires in the Alexis Creek
area to the west of Williams Lake so no matter which
direction the wind blows, the residents of Willy's Puddle
are enduring a pall of smoke and ash, made worse
by the fact that the town is in a valley. Apparently air
quality is horrendous.
There are several fires on both sides of Alexis Creek
and people I've talked to that came through on Highway
20 said visibility was often less than 150 feet and the
air choking. Several folks there are on evacuation alert
although since there have been a few road closures due
to smoke, evacuating may not be that simple. One
fire south and east of Alexis Creek is 7,500 acres and
growing. Another fire east of Alexis Creek is also about
The Dog Creek/Alkali Lake Fire southwest of Williams Lake
has grown to over 15,000 acres and threatens native reserves
and ranches in the area. Many of these fires are no where
near being contained.
While we've sympathized with those communities in smoke,
we've been seriously grateful that our skies have been
clear blue for weeks now other than a day or two when
the North Tweedsmuir Park fire sent smoke our way but
although you could smell the smoke it wasn't too bad.
Until today, anyway. I watched the smoke roll over us
Friday evening and hoped it would move on. It didn't.
It dropped to lake level overnight and held most of the
day. The stench of old smoke was in the air and air quality
was not good. We kept hoping winds expected
in Bella Coola would make their way here and blow it away
but no such luck. You couldn't see much in the way
of thunderheads except overhead, but we heard boomers
that were pretty close a couple of times, but
the smoke was so bad you couldn't have seen a forest fire
smoke if you tried. At least it looks like it's clearing
We finally got a lookout in the Forestry
watch tower on Kappan Monday afternoon. It was about bloody
time. As soon as I learned the lookout was coming in I
turned to Andy and said, "Betcha they're expecting
thunderstorms tomorrow!" Sure enough, we heard some
thunder but for the most part the storms rolled on over
and nailed other areas, including poor Alexis Creek. I
hold that it's just too dry for much to be picked up here
just this side of the mountains unless we get a storm
front moving in from the ocean that's already packing
I was contacted by one person previous to our lookout
coming in that wanted to know what I did last year to
get a lookout up on Kappan. He and other residents
of his area were pretty angry that no lookouts were up
yet. Although from what he said, there had been
one up in the Alex Graham watch tower at Alexis Creek
until two days before the Bull Canyon fire started when
she was pulled. Who knows how much time would have been
saved getting resources on that fire if she had been up
there and able to report it immediately.
That's another thing. I guess that fire was not started
by a campfire but by road maintenance crews doing clean
up in the area with chain saws Although it was human started,
it was not campfire started.
The talking heads on the news hour kept spouting numbers
provided by Ministry of Forests about the high percentage
of fires started by campfires. But that was before
the lightning strikes that started hitting everywhere
this past week. That percentage has changed drastically
now as it always does. But you don't hear about that anymore.
It's too bad the media only reports what is fed to them.
Not that having a campfire anywhere would be anything
but foolish now. A full fire ban went on Thursday throughout
most of BC and I'm all in favor of it at this time. It's
definitely warranted since so many regions, including
ours, is in the extreme fire danger zone.
However, I didn't like how some forestry twit decided
to post their sign on our brand new information kiosk.
Without bothering to ask, they spiked a bloody big fire
ban sign on the front of the building with roofing nails.
Can you imagine them doing something like that to the
two buildings across the street, either the store or the
post office? Doing that would probably have caused the
sign to disappear into a very dark place on the person
that nailed it up. But just because our building was unattended,
they think they can come along and spike that thing into
the wall next to ferry schedules and brochures without
permission. That's just the kind of help we need with
out tourism. Arrogant twits. Needless to say, it has been
moved to the side of the building under Community Bulletins
where it belongs and posted in a much neater manner, sans
You will find last week's article at July
Week Two , and I will try to
do a better job of updating the blog now that forest fire
season has started in earnest. It's just that
it's been a really busy summer so far and I just haven't
been able to find time at the computer other than for
absolutely necessary work. The rest of the time I'm outside
in this gloriously hot (and tiring) weather we've had
for a couple of months now. We've still gotten no more
than 1 1/2 inches of rain since the snow melted in April
so staying on top of the watering around here is a full
Thanks for your patience, folks. Oh, and thanks to our
neighbour Ted that kindly sent some pictures of the Bull
Canyon Fire when he went to town a while back.
The purpose of this web site is to draw attention to a
remote area of west central British Columbia. It is a
beautiful area that relies heavily on tourism. The search
engines don't know much about the West Chilcotin, Anahim
Lake, Nimpo Lake or any of the other small communities
in the region and I hope to change that! Even as large
as this site will eventually be, there just isn't enough
room or time in the day to fully describe this incredible
country but I am going to try scraping away at the tip
of the iceberg, so join me!
the links, and see what the West Chilcotin is really like!