The fire was showing very aggressive activity [on July 29th] even though the air tankers had done 2 or 3 drops already. The fire kept moving.
The very first job I had, believe it or not, was to stop the heavy equipment from going into the fire.
Safety is always our #1 priority. It was just unsafe for the equipment to go in there or any crews to go in there because of fire activity. We just didn’t have a handle on it initially. So we have to reconnoiter the area. We have to find out how, what’s happened with the fire, we have to have escape routes, safe areas to go to before we can send crews in. So like I said, my first job was to keep my foot on the tracks of the bulldozers and the backhoes that showed up.
It was a very interesting job. The, ah, the heavy equipment operators were very anxious to get in there and do something but we just couldn’t let them go in.
Deborah Chapman, Salmon Arm Museum, c. 2016
Niall McNeil, c. 2003