Helicopter pilot battled heavy winds, wildfire

Residents grateful for firefighting efforts near Moyie.

  • Aug. 31, 2015 6:00 a.m.

Barry Coulter

Residents of Moyie are grateful for the quick response and bravery exhibited in fighting and putting out a wildfire near Moyie on Saturday.

The fire was started when Saturday’s heavy windstorm took out a power pole.

“What happened was in the middle of that terrible windstorm, a branch came down on a transformer and sparked the fire,” said Charlotte Stoneking, a longtime resident of Moyie.

“Fortunately, someone driving by — and it was on the same side of the townsite — stopped and called 911 at the Moyie store.”

Stoneking had great praise for the Moyie Emergency Response Team — “a wonderful volunteer group. They were on scene right away, and realized they couldn’t actually get to the fire. BC Forest Service was then immediately on scene.”

Stoneking said when Forest Service personnel realized they couldn’t get the water bombers in, they had a helicopter pilot come in with a bucket. Residents watched as the pilot made several passes in the teeth of the heavy wind, bucketing the fire and eventually getting it under control.

“What an incredible feat it was,” Stoneking said. “The windstorm that swept through here was scary in itself, and he made six or seven trips, and managed to get that fire under control and help put it out.”

The fire was only two kilometres from Moyie.

“We were all on alert to do whatever we had to do on such short notice,” Stoneking said. “It makes us all appreciate so much what is important in life.

Stoneking said that considering how the province and other communities have been hit so hard, “it just makes us all the more appreciative that we have what we have. We were so fortunate that the helicopter could attend so quickly, because it was so close to our town,” she said.

“As a resident of Moyie, I wanted to say from the bottom of my heart — a very big thank you to the Moyie Emergency Response Team, the BC Forest Service for being there so quickly, and the helicopter pilot and whoever was with him.

“They did an incredible job and flying and getting that fire out in the middle of that windstorm.”

Cranbrook Daily Townsman