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

Wet’suwet’en clan launches civil lawsuit against Coastal GasLink

Gidimt’en seeking damages and costs over destruction of logging road encampment and gate

“Does Kirby care?” Heiltsuk Nation using geo-targeted ads in Houston, Texas for justice

The Heiltsuk Tribal Council has called out Kirby Corporation for the Nathan E. Stewart oil spill

“No excuse” for killing of two young grizzly cubs

Reader hopeful someone will come forward with information

UPDATE: U.S. firm fined $2.9M for fuel spill that soiled B.C. First Nation territory

The Nathan E. Stewart spilled 110,000 litres of diesel and heavy oils in October 2016

VIDEO: Missing teens named as suspects in three northern B.C. killings

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are wanted in the deaths of Lucas Fowler, Chynna Deese, unknown man

B.C. teacher suspended for professional misconduct

Grade 8 shop teacher admits to use of vulgar language and profanities toward students

Northern B.C. double homicide, suspicious death: A timeline of what we know

Two teens from Port Alberni are now wanted Canada-wide in connection to the three deaths

B.C. wine industry legend Harry McWatters dies

Among his accomplishments, McWatters founded the province’s first estate winery, Sumac Ridge Estate

Provincial health body refuses to release full findings of cancer triage system audit

Information and Privacy Commissioner asked to review redactions

Southern resident killer whale died of blunt trauma, likely from ship

J34 was found more than two years ago near Sechelt, but the necropsy findings have now been released

B.C. rail crossing death highlights risks for people in wheelchairs: watchdog

Transportation Safety Board points to ‘persistent risks faced by persons using assistive devices’

B.C. teens wanted in double homicide, suspicious death spotted in Manitoba

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky were thought to have been seen in the Gillam area

Memorial bench painted by Vancouver woman to stay in park for now

Park board to look at options for artistic enhancements on commemorative benches

Most Read