An employee of a contractor died while working at the wildfire in the Nanaimo Lakes area, according to TimberWest.
In a statement released Thursday, TimberWest confirmed an employee of a contractor passed away while working under the supervision of the BC Wildfire Service Coastal Fire Centre at Nanaimo Lakes on Monday evening. TimberWest said the employee died after a “tragic medical incident.”
“Our thoughts are with family, friends and colleagues affected by this incident,” Domenico Iannidinardo, vice president, sustainability and chief forester, said in a statement.
“We urgently ask the public to obey fire bans and forest closures. Wildfires put all of us at risk. We are working closely with the BC Wildfire Service to ensure the public remains safe, and we are grateful for their service, and for every member of the team helping to contain this fire.”
WorkSafeBC said the employee was found dead in a vehicle south of Nanaimo around 10 p.m. Monday and that the death was not related to a crash.
The employee’s age, name and gender has not been released by officials but the employee’s family did confirm it was Darrell Drake who passed away.
Geraldine Manson, Darrell’s sister, said he was waiting on standby with a water truck and was part of the firefighting efforts.
“He was an outgoing, hardworking person,” Manson said, adding that he loved working year-round in the mountains.
Manson said Darrell had the “biggest smile,” adored his children and always had time for family. He had been planning a family get-together for this weekend.
Darrell grew up in the Nanoose Bay and Parksville areas but was recently living in Chemainus. The 58-year-old leaves behind three children, a partner and his beloved dog Loki.
A celebration of life for Darrell will be held at The Grand Hotel at 9:30 a.m. He will be cremated. A GoFundMe has been set up to support Darrell’s family.
As of Thursday, 476 wildfires were burning in the province, including 39 new fires sparked the previous day. The Nanaimo Lakes wildfire is at 179 hectares and is 25 per cent contained.
An evacuation order and alert remain in place. The order is for homes west of the Nanaimo Lakes wildfire in the area outlined in red below:
The evacuation alert is for 77 residences for an area east of the fire, including:
- Elk Trails Way from 2515-2630
- Nanaimo River Road from 1565-2665
- South Forks Road from 2375-2710
- Twilight Way from 2728-2796
Residents will be given as much advance notice as possible prior to evacuation.
Nanaimo Lakes Road and Nanaimo River Road remain closed at South Forks Road. TimberWest has closed all Nanaimo Lakes campsites.