By Susan Swan
Wildfire public meeting in Clinton
The Village of Clinton organized a public meeting for those affected by the wildfire near the municipality. Village staff got a call on the morning of Monday, July 17 asking if the village would like the wildfire incident commander to meet with residents. Calls were made, and by mid-morning a public meeting was set up for 5 p.m. in the Clinton Memorial Hall. Notices were put out on social media and on bulletin boards, and people were asked to notify neighbours and friends.
More than 200 people showed up for the meeting. Mayor Jim Rivett introduced the panel: Reg Trapp, BC Wildfire incident commander on the Ashcroft Reserve fire; RCMP Cpl. Rob Daly; BC Ambulance unit chief Chris Guerin and BC Ambulance superintendent Noreen Park; Clinton Emergency Social Services representatives Tammy Fletcher and Sandi Burrage; TNRD Area “E” director Sally Watson; Chad Swanson from West Fraser Mills; Clinton fire chief Wayne Walch; and deputy fire chief John Engelhart.
Each member of the panel spoke about their responsibility during the fire event. Reg Trapp walked the audience through the start of the fire to how quickly it grew, and where it grew to. The head of the fire currently sits northeast of the Village of Clinton and the Chasm Mill. Teams are working 24 hours a day conducting burn operations along the flanks of the fire to try to get it under control. Trapp explained that it is too hot and dangerous to put personnel out in front of the fire. By the time the fire reached Loon Lake it was a Rank 5 to 6 fire, seven to eight kilometres wide. Air tankers, he explained, would not be effective for a fire of that magnitude.
After each members of the panel spoke, the audience had an opportunity to ask questions. Most could get answers immediately, but a few were asked to meet privately with individual members of the panel after the meeting. Questions included evacuating animals, registering after being evacuated (if you do not need lodgings, food, etc. then you only need to register with the Canadian Red Cross, and this can be done online or by phone), resources being used to fight this fire, etc.
Due to the amount of misinformation, it was suggested that people use trusted sources of information. These include the TNRD website (www.tnrd.ca) that is updated daily; or phone the Emergency Operations Centre at 1-866-377-7188.
One of the questions that was of interest to everyone was the distance the fire currently is from the Village of Clinton and the mill. Trapp said that as of July 17 the fire was approximately 10km from the village, and a little further than that from Chasm Mill, and is currently moving off to the east/northeast.
The members of the panel received a hearty “Thank you” and a standing ovation from the audience.
Clinton hires new CAO
Following the notice from chief administrative officer Tom Dall of his retirement effective July 31, 2017, Village of Clinton council embarked on an exhaustive search for a suitable replacement.
On Wednesday, July 12 Mayor Jim Rivett swore in Clinton’s new CAO at the regular council meeting. Monika Schittek comes to Clinton from Sechelt. Prior to that she worked as a CAO in a small community in the Yukon Territory.
With barely time to settle into her new position, Schittek was taking the lead on the Emergency Operations for the Village of Clinton to deal with the wildfire situation.
Welcome to Clinton, Monika. Hopefully things will settle down in the near future.
Thank you Save-On-Foods
Although the Village of Clinton has thus far been on Evacuation Alert and not an Evacuation Order, the nearby wildfire has impacted the village in many ways. Jin Kim of Budget Foods has arranged for grocery trucks to get escorted through so there is food on the shelves, and he has been able to get gas deliveries for his Shell station. As well, J.J. Cho of Clinton Petro Canada has received gas deliveries. Although they can buy the basics in Clinton, residents have not been able to go out of town for bulk buying of groceries or to access food banks.
On Friday, July 14 a semi backed up to the Clinton Memorial Hall and an assembly line formed. Save-On-Foods had sent 10 pallets of goods to be distributed to those who needed it in and around the Village of Clinton.
Dozens of volunteers showed up to help unload the truck and set up tables of goods. The Clinton Emergency Social Services team helped oversee distribution to ensure that everyone who needed food could get it. Evacuees who are staying in Clinton—as well as seniors, pensioners, families, etc.—were all able to take some of the supplies.
A big thank you to Jim Pattison and Save-On-Foods for helping to look after people in trying times.
Music in the Park
Organizers of Clinton’s Music in the Park are hoping that things will have settled down sufficiently by July 29 for the event to go on as planned.
Starting at 7 p.m. in Reg Conn Centennial Park, David Arlen Park will open the show for country singer Jeremy Willis.
By then people may need a distraction from the anxious times we’ve been experiencing; and what better way than with some music by some local talent? Everyone is welcome to attend this free concert that is sponsored by the Spirit of Clinton Committee and the Clinton Arts and Culture Society. You are asked to bring a lawn chair or blanket to sit on.