Firefighters have managed to extinguish the fire at the former Tolko mill, located at Lindley Creek Road.
Early on July 31, BC Wildfire Service announced that the fire was extinguished after two days of suppression efforts onsite.
The blazes that were burning at the wood chip piles at the old Tolko mill sent a column of smoke into the sky early afternoon on Saturday, July 29. According to the BC Wildfire Service’s website, the wildfire was first reported as being 0.6 hectares in size.
As soon as the wildfire was reported, Merritt’s Fire and Rescue Department (MFRD) arrived onsite and was joined by other fire departments from multiple nearby municipalities and a First Nation.
Logan Lake, Bx-Swan Lake, Kelowna, Peachland, Lake Country, Williams Lake and Lower Nicola sent their crews to help control the fire spread and prevent further damage.
Aerial firefighting units were deployed to assist in the operation, utilizing a water-dropping helicopter to target the most intense areas of the fire. The combined efforts of ground and aerial crews were crucial in combating the blaze and minimizing its impact on the local community.
Due to potential risks to the community, the City’s Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) was activated as a precaution and to aid response to the fire emergency. Fortunately, there were no evacuation orders or alerts active for the region during the two-day wildfire burn.
As of now, the cause of the wildfire is still unknown. BCWS reported on their website that they are currently investigating the circumstances.
Mayor Mike Goetz appreciated the efficiency of the Merritt Fire Department in handling the incident.
“With quick action of the Merritt Fire Department and the years of experience of our Fire Chief and Acting Fire Chief, they were able to act on the fire immediately,” he said.
The mayor also said he is grateful for all the support Merritt had from other municipalities to control the wildfire.
“We definitely had the best of the best on this fire,” the mayor said. “We are indebted to all the communities that helped us in our time of need, and we as a City say thank you so much.”