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

B.C. chiefs show solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Chiefs from around B.C. outside the Coastal GasLink pipeline route in Smithers show support.

Woman killed in head-on crash near Vanderhoof

RCMP say driver crossed the centre line and hit a loaded fuel tanker truck

RCMP to review actions at Wet’suwet’en pipeline protest camps

Senior Mountie says he hopes protests will be peaceful following deal with hereditary chiefs

‘Tripod’ delays access to Unist’ot’en camp

Social media rumours of cultural significance quashed, meaning police “exclusion zones” should end.

Hereditary chiefs negotiate injunction agreement

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs abide by interim injunction, but gate stays up. Still opposed.

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

Suspended B.C. legislature officers accused of ‘flagrant overspending’

Personal trips, purchases, alcohol and more laid out in 76-page report by Plecas

Alberta youth charged over theft of $17,000 in snow equipment at B.C. ski resort

Alberta RCMP recovered $17,000 in skis/snowboards believed stolen from Fernie Alpine Resort Saturday

China demands U.S. drop Huawei extradition request with Canada

Hua said China demands that the U.S. withdraw the arrest warrant against Meng Wanzhou

Giant ice disk equipped with webcam after surviving storm

Westbrook official Tina Radel says the livestream was requested by Brown University

Ousted B.C. legislature officials say report released to further blacken their reputations

James and Lenz say release was ‘Contrary to all principles of fairness and decent treatment’

B.C. animators land Oscar nominations

‘Animal Behaviour’ by Vancouver’s David Fine and Alison Snowden among several Canadians on the short list

B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

Auto shop apologizes after B.C. employees disrespect memorial convoy

Mr. Lube staff members suspended after incident Sunday in Nanaimo

Most Read