Local BC Hydro crews, assisted by line crews from Nanaimo Construction, are shown here setting new poles and stringing wire in a wildfire ravaged area of the central interior. Photo sent to the union.
July, 2017 – As wildfires rage across many communities in British Columbia’s central interior forcing evacuations and disrupting lives, a state of emergency has been declared by the provincial government.
Local 258 IBEW members living and working in the affected communities are facing numerous challenges. Some have been forced to leave their homes under evacuation orders and many others are working in very difficult fire and smoke-filled environments. Line crews are working to re-establishing local power grids as lines are down and structures damaged, and members working in traffic control are on the front lines dealing with frightened families as they flee their wildfire ravaged communities and travel to emergency reception centres or safe accommodations with relatives or friends hundreds of miles away.
Line crews from outside of the affected areas have been assigned by BC Hydro to join with the local line crews in an all out effort to get the power back on and are facing extreme and difficult working conditions. Some areas have yet to be declared safe to work in, causing delays in repairing and replacing severely damaged equipment.
“We have been hearing from our members in the field about the challenges of working in the hot fire and smoke-filled environment. Many of our members who live locally have been scrambling with forced evacuations to get out of their own homes to a safe place. They are distressed and have expressed their fears, concerns and frustrations,” says Doug McKay, Business Manager for Local 258 IBEW. “We appreciate they have reached our to their union in their time of need.”
With the provincial government announcing $100 million dollars to support evacuees and their communities, the Canadian Red Cross is supporting the BC Government in providing relief for those affected.
According to information posted on the Government of BC website, evacuees are being asked to register directly with the Red Cross.
You can register online or call the contact centre at 1-800-863-6582 to have an agent help you to register. Please visit the Red Cross website for more important information.
For Canadians who wish to help support the Canadian Red Cross a British Columbia Fires Appeal donation website has been opened. Your donation will help provide immediate relief, including financial assistance to those affected by these wildfires.
“We encourage our members who have been directly affected as a result of these evacuations to register immediately with the Red Cross so they can access the financial assistance that is available now. If any Local 258 IBEW member finds themselves in dire circumstances and requires additional assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact your union directly,” says Business Manager McKay. “I have my cell phone on at all times and can be reached at 604-209-4067.”