A surprise barbecue was a welcome break for more than 25 hungry and tired firefighters after a day working on the Mt. Hayes wildfire behind Ladysmith. Four of the tired crew, having finished their dinner, are Matt Black from McKenzie, left, and Alex MacPhail, Keaton Grunder and Ben Bouchut all from Fort St. John. (Duck Paterson photo)

A surprise barbecue was a welcome break for more than 25 hungry and tired firefighters after a day working on the Mt. Hayes wildfire behind Ladysmith. Four of the tired crew, having finished their dinner, are Matt Black from McKenzie, left, and Alex MacPhail, Keaton Grunder and Ben Bouchut all from Fort St. John. (Duck Paterson photo)

Campground and community feed hungry firefighters to say thanks

Rondalyn Resort put on a barbecue for more than 25 firefighters who had been working at Mt. Hayes

BY DUCK PATERSON

Last week the maintenance crew from Rondalyn Resort campground held a surprise barbecue for more than two dozen members of the wildfire crew that had been battling the interface fire on Mt. Hayes. Many of the firefighters had been on the front lines of the fire since the day after it started on Aug. 19.

“We just wanted to show appreciation to all these guys and gals for their steadfast determination to keep the fire under control,” said Michael English, from the campground. “These folks are dealing with danger all day, seven days a week, and we wanted to say thanks.”

As of Aug. 22, the B.C. Wildfire Service issued a statement saying that the fire was being held after burning approximately 73 hectares and involving the efforts of two air tankers, three water-dropping helicopters and almost 60 firefighters.

The Rondalyn maintenance crew of English, Darrel Kennedy and Mark Medd did all the prep and cooking for the firefighters who were all staying at the local campsite at the end of Timberlands Road. The owners of Rondalyn has supplied the camping for the firefighters. The Timberlands Pub donated appie platters for the barbecue and 49th Parallel Grocery and the Cassidy Farm Market gave them a variety of groceries. Save-On-Foods in Ladysmith told the organizers to gather whatever they needed for the firefighters.

“This is what community does, it’s all of us appreciating the people that are putting their health and well being on the line to keep us all safe,” English said.

As of Aug. 30, the fire on Mt. Hayes “was in mop-up stage and considered being held,” according to Parksville information office Dorthe Jakobsen. She said by then there were no aerial resources being used, though there were still 24 firefighters working on the fire.

All evacuation orders and alerts had been lifted, including the one for the Fortis B.C. facility on Mt. Hayes.

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