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West Chilcotin wilderness lodge owners eye Gatcho Complex Fire 10 km away

Arön and Jennifer Toland have two sprinklers on every cabin

The owners of Eliguk Lake Lodge in the West Chilcotin are keeping an eye on the Gatcho Complex Fire located about 10 km west.

As of July 9, the Gatcho Lake wildfire is estimated to be 1,100 hectares due to the merging of three fires on the evening of July 8.

The fire is located 1.5 km southeast of Gatcho Lake and is expected to increase over the coming days.

On Sunday afternoon, July 9, the Cariboo Regional District issued an evacuation order for 10 parcels in the Gatcho Lake region.

The Eliguk Lake Lodge is not included in the evacuation order.

Jennifer Toland, who owns the lodge with her husband Arön Toland, told Black Press Media Monday, July 10, there is a prevailing west wind that could blow the fire to their resort.

“We have the biggest stand of dead pine/spruce to our north. That’s always been our biggest fear,” she said. “Not grizzly bears or wolves, but the pine beetle kill destruction.”

On Monday morning the Tolands have ash landing and it is very smoky.

They have two sprinklers on every cabin and are trying to put more on a perimeter.

“We don’t have any help like a fire suppression team, but we’ve invested in several pumps as this is not our first fire. We’ve had four seasons of fires in this area out of the seven we’ve been here,” she said.

The Tolands also have a 34-foot barge to escape on the lake with supplies and oxygen tanks.

Reflecting on the last few days, she shared there have been several lightning storms and there are many fires burning around them and more popping up each day.

“It’s scary,” she admitted. “The fires don’t usually start until the following day. No one lives out here except us, so we’re really on our own when it comes to keeping an eye out after the storms.”

Their closest neighbour is 40 km away.

“We are truly off-grid,” she said. “Plus our area has not seen rain in months. The ground is dust. We have never seen it this dry.”

They are trying to stay optimistic, she added.

READ MORE: EVACUATION ORDER: Cariboo Chilcotin’s Gatcho Lake area impacting 10 parcels

READ MORE: EVACUATION: Townsend Creek wildfire near Quesnel

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Monica Lamb-Yorski

About the Author: Monica Lamb-Yorski

A B.C. gal, I was born in Alert Bay, raised in Nelson, graduated from the University of Winnipeg, and wrote my first-ever article for the Prince Rupert Daily News.
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