Southside of Francois Lake from the north shore, photo from Clint Lambert.
Some residents of the Southside of Francois Lake are saying that BC Wildfire used questionable tactics during the area’s evacuation over the summer.
The Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako issued an evacuation order for the Southside on August 15th, which was rescinded just over a week ago.
Catherine Marcinek, one of around 100 residents who stayed behind despite the evacuation order, said authorities were giving “misinformation” to residents in order to scare them out of the area.
“They said the Southside was going to be nothing but rock and ash.”
“They told us when they came to evacuate us that they would need our dental records to identify our bodies when they burned,” she said.
According to Marcinek, people trying to cross the ferry were also given misinformation.
“They threatened a lot of people at the ferry landing. We have to be informed, and they weren’t doing that. What they were telling people was false, untruthful and uninformed.”
She said if it hadn’t been for Southside residents who stayed to fight the fire, they wouldn’t have any homes left.
Greg Reynolds, another Southside resident, agreed with that statement.
“Those farmers stopped that fire, not BC Wildfire.”
He said BCWFS didn’t take care of the Verdun fire when they should have.
“We told them there was a hot spot out there, and they refused to go take care of it. I really think they wanted to burn the Southside out, a lot of people here feel that way,” said Reynolds.
“To me, this fire should have never happened, they’re responsible for it. They just walked away and left us.”
Both Reynolds and Marcinek wanted to express their gratitude to the ground crews working to fight the fire, and said that the problems came from “higher up.”
It’s not the first complaint from Southside about the BCWFS over the summer.
The service was accused of releasing false information about why dozens of vehicles carrying water suppression units were not utilized to fight the Verdun fire. The trucks sat in Burns Lake for three days before leaving the area.
MyPGNow has reached out to BCWFS and we will update as information becomes available.