A professional forester has joined the Cariboo Fire Centre as manager.
Mike Gash has been a professional forester for 25 years working in Williams Lake for the last 20 years. He’s also worked as the regional manager of the Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation.
“I’ve always had an interest in the activity that the fire centre leads which led me to apply for this in early summer thinking that it would be an exciting new challenge for myself,” Gash said.
“In my one month on the job I’ve been absolutely amazed at the dedication of the fire centre staff, the contractors, the rural communities that we’re working with. It is really amazing to see the dedication of all of these people.”
Not the least bit surprised, Gash says he knows that 2017 was a very difficult year, but the people here take an immense amount of pride in the work that they do that has shone through in the last month.
He says while fire suppression is a large part of the Fire Centre particularly during the summer months, another large part is looking at managing the landscape for fire risk and fire prevention.
“I think that the last two summers across British Columbia have really pointed out to the need for additional resourcing and also looking at long-term fuel management across the landscape, and I see those as two of our biggest challenges going forward.”
Gash takes over the role as manager of the Cariboo Fire Centre from Krista Dunleavey who announced her retirement earlier this year.
He assisted in the unprecedented 2017 wildfire season with the evacuation of Indigenous communities throughout the Cariboo, and also had staff that worked with him in Indigenous Relations at the Fire Centre assisting those communities and the Fire Centre.
“This fire season was the busiest on record in British Columbia in regards to hectares burned,” Gash said.
“What was unusual this summer is all six fire centres across the province were busy at the same time. During 2017 the Cariboo Fire Centre and the Kamloops Fire Centres took the bulk of the fires, but this year everyone was busy which really taxed our collective provincial resources.”