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First Nation near Fraser Lake frustrated about lack of firefighting support

Nearly 9,000 British Columbians remain on edge on Tuesday night, told they may have to leave their homes on a moment's notice as wildfires grow. Richard Zussman is near Quesnel with the latest.

A First Nation near the ongoing Shovel Lake fire is frustrated over a lack of support in battling the flames. Martin Louie from the Nadleh Whut’en First Nation says his community was not informed when the BC Wildfire Service decided to do a controlled burn in the area on Monday.

The concern is now growing because over the last 24 hours, the fire has gone from being 25 kilometres outside the community on the east end of Fraser Lake to about five kilometres from the 300-person community on Tuesday.

READ MORE: B.C. wildfire update Monday: More fires now burning than during record 2017 season

“We were trying to get information from Wildfire B.C. and we were trying to get information, but we got no support,” said Martin Louie. “We are just ordering our own equipment. We have got people that we know that are bringing equipment in to help us.”

Louie says the elders and children in the community have evacuated but others are staying behind to fight the fire themselves. There are about 70 homes in the area. There are significant areas near the Shovel Lake fire that are under an evacuation order.

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“We expect things like this, so we totally prepared ourselves,” said Louie. “I kind of figured we were going to be on our own on this thing.

 

Bill Miller from the Buckley Regional District says the fire jumped because of winds, not because of the prescribed burn. The district is responsible for putting alerts and orders in place but says that First Nations have control over their own land and whether alerts are put in place.

“From the regional districts, we try to spend a lot of time connecting with the First Nations. We try to make sure they are aware of the alerts and orders,” said Miller. “They are like us, an order of government. They have the ability to put alerts and orders in place.”

The Shovel Lake fire is the largest in the province at an estimated 50,000 hectares.