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