Scars from 2018 wildfire near Francois Lake. Earlene Steinhilbert photo

Southside resident regrets evacuating

Senior resident returns to a damaged, burglarized property

Margot Allison was not one of the residents south of Burns Lake who chose to ignore the evacuation orders this summer.

READ MORE: Some residents south of Burns Lake refuse to evacuate

READ MORE: Burns Lake councillor defends residents who ignored evacuation orders

Instead, the senior resident on a pension picked up her goats and drove to the Okanagan at her own expense until the wildfire season was over.

Now she regrets it.

“I’m very sorry I did [evacuate],” she said. “I absolutely regret it.”

When Allison returned to her home on Tattlerose Road she found that extensive damage had been done property as a result of firefighting efforts.

“They wrecked the garden, they torn down flower beds, the sewer was completely broken, they put piles of earth inches from my wall,” she described.

“I have my place up for sale and nobody is going to buy it this way.”

She also found that her home had been burglarized.

“Every day I find that things are missing in my house, pieces of this and that,” she said.

Allison said all she wants is for her property to be fixed before the snow piles up and makes the situation worse.

“I get a lot of apologizes; I don’t need apologies, I need work done,” she said. “Nobody has been out here to do anything, and the fires have subsided for about a month.”

According to Melany de Weerdt, Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako’s (RDBN) chief administrative officer, the RDBN is not responsible for repairing damage to private property from either the wildfires or fire suppression efforts.

“If property owners experience damages as a result of the wildfires burning through private property, the property owners must claim for losses through their insurance,” she said.

When it comes to police presence, de Weerdt said the regional district requested that the RCMP remain in place to protect people and property for what they deem to be an appropriate period following the final evacuation order rescinds to support the re-entry process.

READ MORE: Burns Lake RCMP have hands full with wildfire situation

“The regional district is cognizant of the significant challenges that residents face across the region and is advocating strongly with the Province, the federal government, and volunteer agencies to secure as much support as possible to assist residents with the challenges that they face,” she added.

The BC Wildfire Service said they are taking information about damaged properties through their claims email.

People who experienced damage to their property associated to wildfires are encouraged to send in their information to BCWSClaims2018@gov.bc.ca. Each case will be investigated and reviewed accordingly.

According to Carolyn Bartos, fire information officer for the Northwest Fire Centre, rehabilitation work is expected to be ongoing throughout 2019.

“Rehab work is currently underway and will be continued until snow covers the ground,” she said. “In spring, when the snow clears, work will resume.”

 

Scars from 2018 wildfire near Francois Lake. Earlene Steinhilbert photo

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