There is cruel irony in the wake of a fire on June 8 that claimed a life and destroyed a home in the Monte Creek area east of Kamloops.
As plans for fire protection in the area continue to be discussed, it has emerged that the current owner of the property had pledged to donate land to house a fire hall. And, in 1984, a request by applicant Bar HH Cattle Company for a community firehall site on the property was rejected by the Agricultural Land Commission.
As first reported by Radio NL on June 9, the 1984 application asked for permission to subdivide a 0.2-hectare lot from the 94-hectare property.
The ALC denied the request in September 1984, basing its refusal was “on the grounds that the proposal would be an intrusion into an area of good agricultural potential.”
When the ALC was asked to reconsider its decision in November 1984, it again rejected the request, referencing its original reasoning and adding, “There are vacant lots adjacent to the proposed site which lie outside of the ALR (Agricultural Land Reserve). Many other alternatives appear to be available in the non-ALR area of Monte Creek.”
“It’s just so sad that this was actually underway and in process before this awful tragic fire,” Thompson-Nicola Regional District chair Ken Gillis told KTW.
Gillis said he had met with the current property owner, Ed Herman, and another area resident about need for fire protection in the Monte Creek area. The area is located within the TNRD, slightly outside the City of Kamloops and outside boundaries of both the city and nearby Pritchard.
Without fire protection, property owners are at the behest of nearby fire departments and are required to request service in times of emergency, hoping enough resources are available for help from a neighbour.
In the case of the June 8 fire at 1257 Hook Rd., that didn’t happen until it was too late, Gillis said, noting a delay before that call was made for help, which was ultimately approved.
Meanwhile, Gillis said both parties with whom he met in the recent past about fire protection were keen on establishing a fire department.
“Mr. Herman, whose property burned the other night, was the one who said, ‘If you can make this happen, Ken, I will donate an acre for the firehall,’” Gillis said. “So, I got busy on that.”
Gillis said following that meeting, staff indicated the population of Monte Creek could not support an independent fire department. Thus came the idea by Gillis to piggyback off Pritchard’s department by building a satellite fire hall in Monte Creek. Gillis said Prichard’s fire department has training facilities and necessary equipment. He said the regional district is in the process of conducting an informal survey to determine support from residents for such a proposal, with a formal proposal that would follow and, potentially, a referendum, should adequate support be indicated.
As for the fire aftermath, Gillis said one person is listed as missing because no remains had yet been discovered as of the morning of June 10.
Gillis said the RCMP has rented an excavator and the Pritchard fire chief is on scene, removing debris in a search for remains.
“That recovery attempt is underway as we speak,” Gillis said.
Tk'emlups Rural RCMP received a report of the fire at about 8:30 p.m. on June 8.