MICS Saves the Day

Last Wednesday, July 25, our pagers went off for a structure fire on North road. As all of our FFs were heading for the fire hall, a second page came through, standing down our department, as the fire was on Mudge Island.

The relief of not having a structure fire to contend with on this extremely dry July morning quickly changed to concern, as Mudge doesn’t have an actual fire dept.

A small band of locals known as MICS, the Mudge Island Citizens Society,  have undertaken the task of acquiring equipment and training for a day like that morning.

As I drove onto Brickyard beach, I saw how urgent the developing scenario appeared. A wide plume of black smoke rose into the sky . Occasional flares of orange flames indicating that trees were candling. The plume seemed to be getting wider as I watched. Luckily there was no wind to spread it faster.

Within a few minutes, I could hear a siren from across the water. The retired Gabriola fire engine No.3 was responding, along with their other two trucks.

I knew the BC Wildfire Service would have been contacted as well. In a remarkably short period of time, the black smoke started to turn grey and patchy white, indicating water was being shot onto the fire.

A helicopter appeared and did a couple of loops around the fire site, then disappeared. There had been a second fire call on another island, and after reporting on the Mudge fire, it flew off to assess the other one.

Two more helicopters soon arrived and deployed Bambi buckets, which scooped up seawater and made numerous runs dousing the fire.  It was less than an hour after the fire started that the heli’s were dropping water, which IMO, is a pretty reasonable time for outside support crews to be active on a scene.

Later on, sprinklers were set up, and and the sound of a Wajax fire pump roared on until the next morning- to the reported chagrin of one Gabriolan.

MICS is to be commended for the great job they did containing the fire until the helicopters could deliver their payloads. Without them, the likelihood of a great deal more fire damage was a certainty. They deserve the support they get from fellow Mudgekins and others who have contributed to support this most essential endeavour.

This Saturday, MICS will be hosting their annual fundraiser, the money being used to keep them in business. With this past weeks event still fresh in everyone’s  minds, I suspect this may be a very successful event.

For more information on our neighbour, check out www.Mudge.ca

One comment

  1. Lesley Bowness says:

    As Mudge Island year around residents my family and I are so very proud of MICS and our community’s efforts in fighting this fire. It is tragic that our friends lost their house but the 10 year daughter is a hero for keeping a clear head and calling the fire in promptly and for staying safe by staying out if the house. There were so many hero’s that day. Mudgekins with shovels building fire breaks and putting out hot spots. People who drove the fire trucks and tankers, our MICS executive who have taught us how to use our fire fighting equipment and who have been planning and preparing for such an event and our fire warden who works long hours making sure we are being safe on this island. We are a small community but as One of our MICS executive (Scott Flemming) said “we are not helpless”.

    The morning of the fire, I was reminded how it was 50 years to the day that a raging forest fire in Alberta burned down all of our farm buildings except for our house thanks to all of the locals and a really great water well. I saw the same resolute spirit on July 25, 2018 as I had seen on July 25, 1968 in Peers, Alberta. I am so sad for the family that lost their home but Mudge is solidly behind them and they will succeed in re-establishing themselves.

    Thank you too for all of the support from the Gabriola community and everyone who has reached out with emotional and financial support. You were there for us when we needed you! A big thank you to BC Wildfire Service and all your help! We had the Wajax pump running in front of our house all night and its noise was very comforting to us as we knew it was cooling the scene of the fire and helping ensure our safety.

    MICS has assisted so many Mudgekins over the years with getting us off the island during illnesses or accidents. The MICS volunteers are always just a call away and their response times are simply amazing! This fire has demonstrated what an incredible community we have! Thank you so very very much to everyone who stepped up on July 25, 2018 and who steps up whenever there is an emergency. This is what community is about!