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

PHOTOS: Harrison students take on the Bunny Run

Harrison Hot Springs Elementary students dressed up for the Easter event

No more mobile vendors on Harrison beach

The approval of an updated business licence bylaw means Nolan Irwin is without a cart

Crown seeking 30 months for Abbotsford vehicle theft, flight from police, Chilliwack crash

Michael Joseph Hasell has 47 criminal convictions on his record in B.C. and Alberta

Harrison Festival releases 2019 line up

The 41st annual Harrison Festival of the Arts will be held from July 12 to 21

BC Ferries to pilot selling beer and wine on select routes

Drinks from select B.C. breweries and VQA wineries to be sold on Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen route

VIDEO: Agassiz, Harrison celebrate National Pet Day

From cats and dogs to lizards and chickens, residents showed off the animals that enrich their lives

Langley MP describes most recent diagnosis as a ‘miracle’

Tory Member of Parliament Mark Warawa doesn’t have pancreatic cancer, but operable colon cancer

Man driving wrong way on Highway 17 ‘seriously’ injured after crash: Surrey RCMP

Police say the driver hit a transport truck, then another car after merging from the off-ramp onto highway

Should B.C. lower speed limits on side roads to 30 km/h?

Vancouver city councillor wants to decrease speed limits along neighbourhood side roads

Lawsuit eyed over union-only raise for B.C. community care workers

‘Low-wage redress’ leaves 17,000 employees out, employers say

Landlord of alleged Okanagan shooter recounts deadly day

Tony Friesen was working in one of the units of his Penticton building when he heard shots

Foreign national arrested in connection to thefts at YVR

A woman, 60, is being held in police custody as Richmond RCMP investigate

Police pursue pesky porker on Vancouver Island

‘This was allegedly not the pig’s first escape’

Rare ‘Snow Tower’ tree blooming in Vancouver city park

A plant rarely grown in Canada is now flowering at the Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park

Most Read