File photo of Smithers RCMP cruiser. Josh Casey photo

File photo of Smithers RCMP cruiser. Josh Casey photo

Mounties from Smithers being sent to help with wildfires

Smithers RCMP could be sending more officers next month to help out with the wildfires, that’s in addition to the one Mountie already sent.

RCMP sent an officer to Williams Lake earlier this month to help out with paperwork.

“Const. Lewis Stryde was deployed to Williams Lake to assist with the interface wildfire problem in the Cariboo Chilcotin. His position at the emergency operations centre is to be the file coordinator,” said RCMP Staff Sergeant Rob Mitchell.

The sending of officers to the wildfire area will have an effect on resources locally.

“His absence will be noticed, but we have a duty to assist,” said S/Sgt. Mitchell.

Mitchell stated other detachments have sent officers to help out the local detachments in the wildfire areas.

“Const. Stryde has been deployed on a seven-days-in, five-days-out rotation. He’s allowed a travel day on each side and then works five shifts at 12 hours-a-day then he returns home for five days off and he repeats the cycle,” he said.

More officers from the Smithers RCMP detachment will be sent in September if the wildfires continue.

Those resources include three officers, who will also be sent to the Williams Lake area for one-week stints. RCMP members dispatched to the area will be taking police cruisers to their posting.

“We did not release a member in late July when they were first requesting members because we had a large community event underway in the Smithers detachment area,” Mitchell said.

The community event was the thousands of girl guides and staff who came to Smithers for Spirit of Adventure Rendezvous (SOAR).

The province of B.C. has been under a state of emergency since early last month as more than 160 wildfires continue to burn.

Williams Lake still remains on evacuation alert after residents were allowed to return to the city following last month’s evacuation order.

Local authorities say several people have been arrested for trying to start new fires in one of the city’s subdivisions.

“The immediate response of the bystanders and Williams Lake Fire Department likely prevented this event from causing serious harm to the homeowner,” RCMP Insp. Jeff Pelley said in a press release.

“Another fire within the city limits could have had a detrimental effect on our community.”

RCMP also reported that several homes in the neighbourhood had also been broken into, and witnesses reported seeing people hiding nearby as they tried to light the fires.

Williams Lake RCMP have described the investigation into the arsons as a top priority.