By Cindy Filipnko
Lower Mt. Currie has lost its fire hall to a fire.
The hall sustained extensive damage to its roof and rafter system in a blaze started by human error on the afternoon of Thursday, Jan. 25. As well, the fire truck, which was in the garage at the time of the blaze, also sustained damage. No one was hurt in the fire.
Village of Pemberton Fire Chief Russell Mack confirmed that the fire was the result of a burning candle left unattended in the suite above the fire hall.
“The truck can probably be fixed, “ said Chief Mack. “But knowing ICBC, they’ll probably want to write it off because it’s an older truck. I encourage (Mt. Currie) to get it fixed because it’s a neat old four-wheel drive truck and its perfect for the area.”
Asked what the impact the loss of Lower Mt. Currie’s first response facility will have on the VOP’s fire service, Chief Mack was optimistic that the impact would be minimal.
“We already work together. And to be honest, Mt. Currie doesn’t have much of a fire department at this time,” he said. “It’s really hard to get volunteers. The first thing they need are bodies, people who will stick around and commit.”
The fire chief says that Mt. Currie is due for a major re-organization to attract younger people to get involved. He suggests strategies such as offering volunteers to be “paid on call” as an incentive.
Representatives form the VOP Fire Department will be meeting with officials in Mt. Currie next week to discuss further strategies. Lil’wat Band Administrator Daniel Sailland will be involved in that meeting. Sailland, who emphasized the importance of the hall as a first response unit, said that the band has no immediate action plans concerning the fire hall.
“We haven’t made any plans yet, we’re still sorting out the insurance issues. We will be looking at all options that are open to us next week.”
The senior administrator added that the fire truck, with its four-wheel drive capacities, is well suited for the community’s diverse terrain. He also said that if ICBC decided not to repair the vehicle it would be a real loss to the community.
“We’d be back at square one,” said Sailland.