Paciejewski has had close-up view of wildfires

Cole Paciejewski is in his seventh season of fighting forest fires. The tinder-dry summer of 2017 is the worst level of destruction he has seen.

"Definitely," said the 23-year-old Prince George resident. "2015 was pretty bad - I worked very steady in 2015 but I've never seen this many fires pop up at once so it's pretty scary to see.

article continues below

"The amount of large fires we have burning all at once right now is unbelievable. And it's only the middle of July right now - I imagine there's going to be more."

Paciejewski was on a break on Tuesday but remained on call in case his services were required.

While the Cariboo region of the province has been hit the hardest by lightning-induced wildfires, Paciejewski had spent the previous three weeks containing flames to the east of Prince George. He works on an initial attack crew that travels to hot spots via helicopter.

"I'm trained in hover exiting so I can actually hang off the skids of a helicopter and can get dropped into places," he said. "I'm a first-responder on most wildfires and our job is to kind of stop them before they grow to the point where you'd see them on the news. We're pretty successful when it comes to that."

Paciejewski said the most intense blaze he's battled so far was one on the Prince George side of the Ancient Forest provincial park, about 100 kilometres to the east, in the foothills of the mountains.

"I was actually on one last weekend and it was in some pretty big timber and some of those big, rotten cedar trees - but (it was) a pretty incredible view," he said.

"I've been on a lot of fires in the Ancient Forest area. The good thing about that timber type is, those cedar trees, usually just one single tree will burn and we go and put that out before it really spreads. They light up in the middle when they get struck with lightning and they kind of just burn in the middle and we have to go and fall the tree and put some water on it. Usually they don't spread too much but they always could."

Paciejewski said the summer so far has been "pretty hectic" for fire crews but added that the work itself has been going well.

"We've got some pretty awesome ground crews that have been making it go as smooth as possible and having the air support from the air tankers and helicopters has been making it go a lot smoother," he said. "But I feel bad for all those people who have been evacuated and things like that. I pray for some rain soon for them."

Read Related Topics

Comments

NOTE: To post a comment you must have an account with at least one of the following services: Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ You may then login using your account credentials for that service. If you do not already have an account you may register a new profile with Disqus by first clicking the "Post as" button and then the link: "Don't have one? Register a new profile".

The Prince George Citizen welcomes your opinions and comments. We do not allow personal attacks, offensive language or unsubstantiated allegations. We reserve the right to edit comments for length, style, legality and taste and reproduce them in print, electronic or otherwise. Comments that contain external links will not be permitted. For further information, please contact the editor or publisher, or see our Terms and Conditions.

comments powered by Disqus
Sign Up For Our e-Newsletter!

VOTING DECISION POLL

How do you decide who you’re voting for?

or  view results

Popular Citizen

Community Event Calendar


Find out what's happening in your community and submit your own local events.

Lowest Gas Prices in Prince George
Prince George Gas Prices provided by GasBuddy.com