What remains of Tahltan Village near Telegraph Creek. (Jane Philpott Facebook photo)

Telegraph Creek wildfire evacuees may be home by Christmas

Structure loss was the highest for any First Nation in Canadian wildfire history, says minister

A plan is in place to see all Telegraph Creek wildfire evacuees home by Christmas.

The remote village of roughly 300 people in Northern B.C. has been under an evacuation order since early August when the massive Alkali Lake wildfire ripped through the area, consuming homes, businesses and more than 120,000 hectares of forest and vital wildlife habitat.

The Tahltan Central Government (TCG) announced in press release this morning the first of the displaced residents, currently scattered throughout B.C. and Yukon, will return Nov. 15 with the remainder hopefully in their homes by Dec. 20.

“The EOC [Emergency Operations Centre] has been working tirelessly to make a return to Telegraph Creek possible,” Feddie Louie, Tahltan EOC director and recovery manager said. “The specific return date will depend on when each home has been cleaned of smoke damage and is refurbished.”

Twenty-seven structures were lost in Telegraph Creek, including 21 homes, two businesses, a daycare and a church. The majority of structures left standing were impacted with significant fire, water, or smoke damage. Combined losses on surrounding land in the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine total more than 160 structures, including fish camps, historical sites, grave sites and seasonal cottages.

No lives were lost in the fires.

READ MORE: Three more fires merge with Alkali Lake blaze

Canada’s minister of Indigenous Services, Jane Philpott, toured the area mid October along with representatives from the Assembly of First Nations and the B.C. First Nations Health Authority. In a Facebook post Philpott called Telegraph Creek the “epicentre” of B.C.’s worst wildfire season on record.

“The Tahltan Nation itself incurred the worst structural damage caused by wildfires of any First Nations community in recorded Canadian history,” she wrote.

“[Tahltan Band] Chief Rick McLean and his team have shown the most remarkable leadership and resilience in the face of this tragedy.”

Since BC Wildfire Service downgraded the fire late August, power and telephone lines, drinking water and septic facilities have all needed extensive assessment and repairs. Crews have also been clearing danger trees and other hazards, inspecting slope stability and repairing the highway — Telegraph Creek’s only access road.

From the early stages of the evacuation public donations of every sort, including food, water, fuel, clothing and household items, started arriving by the truckload from across B.C. to distribution centres in Terrace and Dease Lake. A large sum of cash donations, including $87,000 from a benefit concert held last month in Whitehorse, YT, was also made to the TCG from individuals and businesses across the country.

READ MORE: Tahltan Strong benefit concert raises more than $86K for Telegraph Creek.

“One of the things that I have learned is that you really see the true colours of people during a crisis,” Chief McLean said. “I am overwhelmed by the love and support the Tahltan Nation has received. Thank you to all volunteers, donors and to those who have assisted.”

READ MORE: B.C. shows overwhelming support for Telegraph Creek


 


quinn@terracestandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Telegraph Creek following the massive Alkali Lake wildfire this summer. (Jane Philpott Facebook photo)

Telegraph Creek following the massive Alkali Lake wildfire this summer. (Jane Philpott Facebook photo)

Just Posted

Event planned to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women in Keremeos

Event to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls happening in Keremeos Nov. 21

Truck, trailer stolen from Keremeos area

Last week a truck was stolen, later recovered, and a trailer was also taken.

Share a Smile Telethon moves to Cherry Lane Shopping Centre

The 39th annual event benefits the OSNS Child & Youth Development Centre

100 Men Who Care Penticton continue to give back to the community

Okanagan Boys & Girls Club, South Okanagan Women in Need Society, and Soupateria all received funding

New website to be info hub for expectant mothers in, around Penticton

The website, www.pentictonmaternity.com, provides info on care options in the area

VIDEO: People with diabetes meet their alert dogs

A diabetic alert dog is trained to detect low blood sugar in people who have Type 1 diabetes

2 B.C. men charged after allegedly stealing $1,400 worth of butter

The two men, ages 23 and 25, are facing charges of theft under $5,000, Coquitlam police said

Invasive fire ants join the tourist swarms at Hawaii Volcano National Park

Invasive species found at popular tourist destination

Ten-year sentence for man convicted of B.C. belt-strangling death

Shayne McGenn guilty of manslaughter in 2016 death of David Delaney, 63

Roy Clark, country singer, ‘Hee Haw’ star, has died

Guitar virtuoso died because of complications from pneumonia at home in Tulsa, Okla. He was 85.

Lack of funding, culture on campus biggest barriers for Indigenous students: report

Report based on nearly 300 responses found lack of support at post-secondary schools a big concern

Tinder sex assault suspect charged; additional alleged victims sought

Vincent Noseworthy of Alberta is accused of aggravated sexual assault, unlawful confinement and more

UBC Okanagan BARK program helps local kids with social skills

The program will allow young children to learn from a team of therapy dogs

Most Read