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Abram J. Thiessen transferred from Riding Mountain National Park. He describes his arrival in BC and his new responsibilities.


“The first week while we were waiting for our boots and rain proof clothing, we were given forest fire fighting training which was to be part of our duty besides our regular work. We learned that on very hot and dry days we would not be away from camp but would be on standby duty to respond as quickly as possible. Our camp was divided into two groups with a third and smaller group who would remain in camp to support or replace the main crews in case of injury or other reasons.”


“Our camp was situated 12 miles [19 km] southwest of Campbell River in an area where a very large fire had burned out many square miles of forest in 1938 which was four years before we arrived. For miles in all directions our eyes could see the destruction as a result of that fire. What remained were soot blackened “snags” as they were called. These ranged from six foot [1.8] high stumps to two hundred foot [60 m] giants.”


“During the summer months it can get quite warm on Vancouver Island and also very dry. It is during this hot and dry season that forest fires are the most likely to get started. It was one of these days when every thing had become so tinder dry that the slightest spark could set off a fire. Our area was exceptionally susceptible because the re-growth since the fire of 1938 had not reached the stage of protective greenery. A few times we had tested the inflammability of the ground cover. Even when there was almost nothing to burn but a little moss growth, a lighted cigarette could easily start a fire which spread so fast that we very quickly put it out with loose dirt.”


Using a log boat to travel to forest fires.


“Every morning when we arrived at the fire it was plain that it had not stopped progressing farther into the forest. Every morning we had to reconnect our length of hoses farther up the mountain. The last days we were using three pumps, the second being about 3000 feet [900 m] up from our main pump. The main pump was situated in a sort of swamp which was considered to be safe from the fire reaching it. It was placed next to a spring which supplied us with what must have been millions of gallons of water. The second pump was much smaller as it had to be carried up the hill every morning and carried down when we shut down in the evening. During the last few days we used a yet smaller pump from which was used only a half inch garden hose and the farther up the hill we went the less water pressure we had. The last day we pumped it was only a trickle coming through the nozzle which was very frustrating, because after all the work getting it up there and then being so ineffective. I do not think any of us ever worked as hard before that, and certainly not after. We fought fire every day for over five weeks and the last [day] when we headed back we had become quite discouraged and were wondering what more could be done to halt the fire's progress. The answer came even before we went to bed. A light rain started to fall right after supper and we all went outside, stood in the rain and silently prayed for it to last at least three days, and it did. We had those three days of rest and were thankful that what we had not been able to do with all our hard work, God and nature was doing so effortlessly and effectively. [ASM, 30-49]

David Jantzi worked in BC fighting forest fires which was hard work.  He had to hike up a mountain for 10 miles, carrying the fire fighting equipment to get to the fire.

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