As long weekend campers poured home on Monday, volunteer firefighters from Mesachie Lake stood by the roadside, boots in hand, selling hot dogs. They were raising funds to keep their first responder vehicle on the road.
“And it’s not paid for by taxpayer dollars. Everything’s raised for it,” said Fire Chief Kevin Smith of the Mesachie Lake Volunteer Fire Department.
On Monday at 5 a.m., firefighters raced to a camper that had been set on fire on the Circle Route Highway, where hundreds of protesters have been travelling down to Fairy Creek.
“It just ups the stress volume of it because now you have that many more people and so you always have to expect the unexpected,” said Mesachie Lake volunteer firefighter Bruce Pawlik.
Clashes with police continued Monday in the remote Fairy Creek watershed. But now even in tiny Mesachie Lake, a community of 90 homes, the tension is ratcheting up as daily convoys of protesters go through.
“It’s like they are rubbing in everybody’s face here that, not that they’re more important but that community survives from loggers,” said forestry supporter Karri Magrin, who turned out Saturday for a pro-forestry rally in Mesachie Lake.
On Saturday, logging families rallied by the roadside, then went on social media, alleging protesters spat on them as they passed through.
“It wasn’t a fun time and some of the protesters going by were spitting and screaming and yelling. I have no idea what kind of mood the other half was in,” said Smith.
According to Smith, it’s become a volatile situation.
“It’s worrying and with the increased traffic on the road, probably we’re at mid-summer levels and we’re still in spring and a lot of people are unfamiliar with the area and the challenges of it, there’s no cell phone coverage,” said Smith
The situation is making fundraisers like Monday’s all the more important.
“So we just got to keep everything ready to go and wait,” he said.
Protesters in the area have been pushing back against an injunction being enforced by RCMP, who have set up roadblocks leading to the Fairy Creek Watershed, home to old-growth trees.
On Saturday, protesters block through one such roadblock, claiming it was illegal and prevents transparency regarding what is happening on the other side.
Protesters say B.C. is inadequately protecting its old-growth trees and want the government to immediately step in to prevent further logging of them.
READ MORE: No arrests at Fairy Creek Watershed Sunday, fewer arrested Saturday than first reported: RCMP