When a fire broke out on Denis and Diane Francoeur’s Cherry Creek property at the end of June, the couple feared they might lose their home.
The blaze broke out around 4:45 p.m. and a plume of dark smoke could be seen rising from the edge of the Beaufort Range, above the Alberni Golf Club. Members of the Cherry Creek Volunteer Fire Dept. responded, and they didn’t leave for seven days until the blaze was completely extinguished.
The wildfire quickly spread to two hectares in spite of the best efforts of Cherry Creek VFD and firefighters from other halls in the Alberni Valley.
BC Wildfire crews joined Cherry Creek VFD to help knock down the stubborn two-hectare blaze. BC Wildfire employed four helicopters, a tanker group, two initial attack crews comprising six people, two contract crews comprising eight people and an officer.
“They just were amazing,” Dianne Francoeur said. “It was the hottest day of the year, it was 41 degrees Celsius that day…and they were wearing their full gear.
“It was the scariest day.”
Crews from BC Wildfire and Cherry Creek VFD as well as members from around the Alberni Valley spent seven days working on the fire. After six days it was considered under control, and after seven it was extinguished.
The Francoeurs and their neighbours were on evacuation alert; Denis and Dianne credit the Cherry Creek VFD with saving their home and shop. They are so grateful they have made a $10,000 donation to the department.
Cherry Creek VFD Chief Lucas Banton said the donation was a great thank you for the firefighters.
“We put the money to good use right away. It’s hard on your resources whenever you fight an interface fire,” he explained. “We lost a lot of hoses and fittings. The donation (was) rolled right back into pumps and wildland gear.”
Banton said a cause was never conclusively determined for what started the fire. His department was not involved in the investigation, that came from officials with the South Island Natural Resource District, he said.
“We are eternally grateful,” Dianne Francoeur said. “It could have been worse.”