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  1. #1
    Forum Member RspctFrmCalgary's Avatar
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    Default Local man admits accidentally sparking massive BC wildfire *Media shocks me for once!

    Well I'm shocked ..... the media didn't plaster in the headline that this fellow is a volunteer firefighter with the town department. There could be hope for some media types yet

    Local man admits accidentally sparking massive B.C. wildfire with cigarette

    CAROL HARRINGTON

    MCLURE, B.C. (CP) - After accidentally starting a massive wildfire with a cigarette, Mike Barre says he rushed from door to door, frantically trying to help with the start of an evacuation that eventually forced thousands from their homes.

    "I was a basket-case for a while," Barre told The Canadian Press in an interview Monday at his house, which was not among the 65 homes destroyed in the blaze.

    "I couldn't do it after a while," he said of the door-knocking. "It just got too emotional."

    Barre, a former prison guard who now is unemployed, wouldn't say what exactly he was doing on July 30, when the fire started in the backyard of his acreage, located at the foot of a forested mountain in this sprawling, unincorporated community of 285 people.

    "I feel terrible, beyond what words can say," said the married, 50-year-old father of a young girl.

    A volunteer with the town's fire department, Barre said he admitted to Steve Grimaldi, a fire inspector with the B.C. Ministry of Forests, that he accidentally set the blaze.

    "I told him the first night of the fire that I did it," said Barre.

    When asked if he started the fire with a cigarette, Barre answered, "Yeah, but it was an accident."

    Kamloops RCMP last week said preliminary findings from the fire investigation indicate the blaze was accidental.

    Barre's neighbour, Cheryl Land, said he came running down the hill behind their homes the afternoon of Wednesdays, July 30, yelling that he started a fire.

    As smoke started billowing from the bush, her husband Chris ran up the hill with a shovel to throw dirt on the fire, which had started in a 10-centimetre-deep bed of tinder-dry cedar needles, Land said.

    But the fire had already picked up and it was too fierce to snuff out, she said.

    Barre was installing a satellite dish in the back of his small acreage, just before the fire started, Land said.

    The blaze quickly grew, forcing officials to evacuate more than a dozen homes Thursday night. Eventually, emergency officials said up to 8,500 people from McLure north to Barriere had to flee.

    The village of Louis Creek, just south of Barriere, was almost completely destroyed.

    The fire, still only half contained, was estimated at nearly 200 square kilometres on Monday.

    Barre said he's aware that townsfolk have mixed feelings about him accidentally starting the fire with a cigarette.

    "There are some people who are really angry with me," he said. "And then there are others who understand that it was an accident."

    He said he doesn't know how his colleagues on the local fire department feel about him.

    "I'm not sure if they want me to work there any more," he said.

    Land said there were a lot of people angry toward Barre initially.

    "The first day there was a lot of hatred," she said. "At first I was ****ed off, but it was a mistake."

    Barre's lawyer, John Hogg, said his client is worried that insurance companies that will pay out millions of dollars in damage claims to residents and businesses, may try to recoup the losses from Barre.

    "There's no percentage gained if someone tries to take the boots to him, so to speak," Hogg said from Kamloops, B.C.

    "The damage is just astronomical and trying to get money out of my client is almost like swatting a fly."

    So far, damage estimates to properties in the Kamloop-area fire total $8.2 million, which includes the destruction of 39 houses, 26 trailer homes, 99 sheds and barns, as well as house contents. It doesn't include the Louis Creek sawmill, other businesses and hundreds of gutted vehicles.

    Hogg said that the fact his client is openly telling everyone his story speaks volumes about the man.

    "He's got a social conscience; he's got a heart," Hogg said.

    Stew Geoghegan, whose house and trailer park in Louis Creek was burned to the ground, said he bumped into Barre on Sunday at the local general store.

    "I told him it was a stupid thing to do," said Geoghegan, who had just two of seven trailers covered by insurance.

    "But there's no sense in feeling bad about him. The poor guy is beating himself enough. He's just killing himself."

    Donna Morgan, who was evicted from her backcountry acreage then helped fight the fire, said some people fear that Barre will commit suicide.

    But Barre said hasn't even contemplated doing that.

    "I wouldn't do that, I have a five-year-old daughter," he said.

    The Canadian Press, 2003

    08/11/2003 18:32 EST
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Sheri
    IACOJ CRUSTY CONVENTION CHAIR
    Honorary Flatlander

    RAY WAS HERE FIRST


  2. #2
    Forum Member RspctFrmCalgary's Avatar
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    Now in Victoria, BC. I'm from beautiful Jasper Alberta in the heart of the Can. Rockies - will always be an Albertan at heart!
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    Default

    Well the news on TV definitely highlighted the fact that he's a volunteer firefighter.
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Sheri
    IACOJ CRUSTY CONVENTION CHAIR
    Honorary Flatlander

    RAY WAS HERE FIRST

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