Logging company employee dies working Nanaimo wildfire

Timberwest employee found dead in truck not a firefighter

A logging company employee has died while working at a wildfire in the Nanaimo Lakes area on Vancouver Island.

The province’s workplace safety authority confirmed a TimberWest employee was found dead in a vehicle south of Nanaimo around 10 p.m. on Monday.

“The worker was not a firefighter. Early information indicates the worker was making a delivery to forest wildfire fighters,” WorkSafeBC spokeswoman Trish Knight Chernecki said.

She said a WorkSafe investigator was sent to the scene. Knight Chernecki said the death was not related to a crash but could not give any more details, including the person’s name, age and gender.

The BC Wildfire Service confirmed there was a “medical incident” at the fire overnight on Monday.

When contacted for comment, TimberWest said information would come from the wildfire service.

RELATED: Latest on Nanaimo wildfire

RELATED: Latest on Maple Mountain fire near Crofton

There are currently 462 fires burning in British Columbia, a much higher number than the 130 fires reported on the same date one year ago.

A cooling trend is forecast for the province, but firefighting officials say the change in the weather is likely to be accompanied by intense lightning capable of igniting more forest fires.

Kevin Skrepnek, B.C.’s chief fire information officer, said Wednesday the heat should let up across the province by Friday, but with that comes forecasts of thunderstorms, lightning strikes and only small amounts of rain.

He said the amount of rain in the most recent forecast is between three and five millimetres, which is not enough to ease the extreme fire conditions across B.C.

“The real day we are focusing on right now is Friday,” he said from Kamloops. “We do expect a pretty dramatic shift in the weather.”

Skrepnek said the forecast predicts the break down of the high pressure ridge that has brought record high temperatures to much of the province.

“Unfortunately, with the system coming through we are expecting a cold front that is going to bring about increased winds and that is more than likely going to bring some thunderstorm activity with it,” he said. “We are bracing for it to be a challenging day.”

He said so far this year, since April 1, there have been 1,502 fires, burning about 101,000 hectares and costing $131 million to fight. B.C. spent about $650 million fighting forest fires in 2017.

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson said he took an aerial tour Wednesday of the fire zone in central B.C. where he saw thick plumes of smoke, trees in flames and recent fire damage to area forests. He said he was accompanied by Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth.

“This year the fire season seemed to start later, but it’s more widespread than last year with wildfires of note in all areas of the province,” said Donaldson, in a telephone conference call from a government forest office at Burns Lake.

He said last year’s record fire season that saw the city of Williams Lake evacuated was concentrated in the Cariboo and southern Interior regions while this year wildfires are hitting all areas of B.C., including Vancouver Island, the north and the Interior.

The major fires of concern include a wildfire in Telegraph Creek in the province’s northwest and a large blaze south of Keremeos, he said.

Donaldson said Telegraph Creek is located near the Alaska border and Keremeos is near the eastern Washington state border.

He said he’s tried to get into Telegraph Creek to survey damage from the ongoing fire that destroyed or damaged two dozen buildings, but has been turned back twice due to thick smoke.

A crew of firefighters from Yukon travelled to the community Wednesday to assist in the battle.

The crew is managed by the development arm of the Ta’an Kwach’an Council, a First Nation in the Whitehorse area, and spokesman Ben Asquith said the call for assistance came from former Yukon politician Darius Elias, whose parents live in Telegraph Creek.

Farnworth said there are currently 22 evacuation alerts in areas across B.C., which mean that residents must be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice.

There are also 17 areas that have been evacuated due to extreme fire danger, with the largest being in the Telegraph Creek area, where 250 people have been ordered to leave.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

WATCH: Heiltsuk Nation open first Big House in 120 years in northern B.C.

Opening means the community now has an appropriate space for spiritual and ceremonial events

Prince Rupert’s students are baking it all the way to the bank

Charles Hays band students serve up goodies to fund summer trip

Two temporary voyages between Prince Rupert and Ketchikan added to AMHS schedule

October and November will see service to Alaska during the last week of each month

Police still looking for more info on missing mushroom picker in Nass Valley

65-year-old Greg Agnew was reported missing on Sept. 30

Conrad is giving thanks

Conrad students celebrate the holiday with a special meal

VIDEO: U.S. officials refute British couple’s ‘accidental’ border-crossing claim

Authorities say couple was arrested after illegal entry from B.C., with $16,000 and marijuana

Fatal overdoses down by 33% in B.C., but carfentanil deaths continue to spike

Carfentanil, an illicit drug more powerful than fentanyl, causing more deaths than ever

Terrace artist turns historic downtown tree into work of art

Terrace artist carves a logger into wooden stump

A year after pot legalization in Canada, it’s a slow roll

It’s one year into Canada’s experiment in legal marijuana, and hundreds of legal pot shops have opened

ELECTION 2019: Climate strikes push environment to top of mind for federal leaders

Black Press Media presents a three-part series on three big election issues

ICBC willing to loosen grip on driver claim data, David Eby says

Private insurers say claims record monopoly keeps them out

B.C. principal suspended for failing to help student who reported inappropriate touching

Principal didn’t remove student from the teacher’s class nor call the parents within a reasonable time

Most Read