On August 23rd 2017, a meeting was held at Nimpo Lake to address various fire issues. The Cariboo Regional District (CRD) and the Cariboo/Chilcotin MLA were to be present.
Nimpo Lake and Anahim Lake had been put on Evacuation Order when there was a possibility that the Precipice Fire might take off. Most people stayed and many of them were incensed at the way they were treated. The police and army manned roadblocks and patrolled the roads, and threatened anyone they found with forcible evacuation if they were caught off their property. One man went to the dump (considered legitimate) but when he visited a friend on the way home he was discovered and threatened with a charge of loitering. To compound the situation, the large First Nations Reserves were allowed to do their own policing, and they gave every First Nations person the right to go wherever they liked.
The fire was 30 km away from the communities, and whereas I have seen fires that have travelled that distance in a couple of days with the right winds behind them, the Precipice fire has been hammered from the ground and air every step of the way. Very shortly afterwards, the Precipice fire was deemed non-threatening to the communities (although it is still active and being fought constantly) and the Nimpo/Anahim area was upgraded to Alert.
I tried every which way to figure out a way to get to the meeting. Several days before I phoned the Emergency Services in Williams Lake and asked about a permit; they put me onto the permit guy, and he said he couldn’t give a ruling until the day before. When I phoned on Tuesday, he categorically said: “If you choose to stay in an area with an Evacuation Order and leave it, you will not be allowed home.”
On the one hand I was told by neighbours: “What can they do to you if you arrive at the barricade? Especially if you have dogs still at home?” Other people iterated that if I left an Evacuation Order area I would absolutely NOT be allowed back. The ridiculous thing is that almost all my neighbours have permits to travel. Either they are ranchers, who have received their permits through the Cattleman’s Association, or they own heavy machinery and are employed constructing fire guards. One man with a permit even offered to come and fetch me. “Depends who’s on the barrier,” he said. “Some never bother much but with some you have to have everyone named on the permit.” At the last moment, however, he was given a machinery job and had to withdraw his offer. Someone else suggested that as I was giving weather reports to the fire service that I might be classed as a helper towards the fire and get a permit that way. But that avenue was blocked as well.
Ironically, usually I do everything in my power to avoid going to meetings. But this had become a matter of principal. In the end I decided not to risk it; I could do more good by obeying the letter of the law and writing a formal protest. (The link is to another page on my blog.)
I sent this letter to various media outlets, and as a result have three requests to appear on the radio. Tomorrow, 25th August, I will be interviewed on CBC Radio Kamloops at 7.10:AM, then at CBC Prince George at 7.40:AM.. Radio NL in Kamloops will talk to me on Tuesday 29th at 9.45:AM.