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Cariboo Fire Centre

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The Cariboo Fire Centre is part of the Forest Protection Program of the Ministry of Forests. It covers an area of about 10.3 million hectares, stretching from Clinton (Loon Lake) to the South, North to Cottonwood River just North of Quesnel, East to the Western boundary of Wells Gray Provincial Park and West to the Eastern boundary of Tweedsmuir Provincial Park.

The Fire Centre complex is strategically located at the Williams Lake Airport, for quick deployment of fire resources. The Centre is divided into four zones, Williams Lake/Horsefly (Wilfly), Quesnel, 100 Mile House and the Chilcotin in Alexis Creek.

The Fire Centre is responsible for the prevention, detection and suppression of wildfires in the Cariboo. It provides administrative, technical, suppression and aviation services to all staff within their area of operations and out of province if necessary. Management personnel, fire crews, and equipment resources are shared among the Fire Centres, as well as across Canada. As a collective team the Fire Centre sets fire control priorities within the geographic area of the Centre, controls the tactical deployment of fire control resources and deploys these resources on a priority basis to specific fires.

The Fire centre employs 23 permanent staff and approximately 125 seasonal staff. Of the 95 highly trained seasonal firefighters, 35 are members of 3-person Initial Attack Crews (CIFAC) located in Williams Lake. The remaining 60 firefighters are divided into three 20-person Unit Crews. These Crews are based in Riske Creek (Riske Creek Unit Crew), Williams Lake (Cariboo Fire Injuns Unit Crew) and Lac la Hache (Storm Riders Unit Crew).

Fire Wardens also play a key role in the reporting and suppression of wildfires in the Cariboo. They are called upon as needed and have varying levels of training and experience.

In a region as large and remote as the Cariboo Fire Centre, it is important to have a systematic fire finding system. There are eleven lookout towers located throughout the area to provide landscape surveillance. Located in remote high-risk areas, the towers are staffed by one person who checks the panoramic perspective every fifteen minutes for signs of smoke. They are located in Chilcotin, Williams Lake, 100 Mile and Quesnel.

There are on average 250 to 400 wildfires in the Cariboo during fire season, which stretches from April to October. These wildfires do not just occur in remote areas. Forested and rural subdivisions, farms, acreages and cottages are all potentially threatened by "interface" fires (fires occuring in homes situated near forested areas). Forest Protection Officers at you local Fire Zone can provide more information regarding how to "Firesafe" your home.