Monica Lamb-Yorski photo. As the wildfire situation continues in the Williams Lake area, major industry says it is putting the safety of its employees first including at Mount Polley and Gibraltar mines where many workers have been either evacuated or put on evacuation alert. This is the view toward downtown at 10 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Williams Lake mines hurting for staff as wildfires ravage area

While the wildfires in and around Williams Lake are not impacting local mines directly, many employees are under evacuation orders or alerts

The wildfire situation in the Williams Lake area is impacting the lives of many employees working at local mines.

“At this time the fires are not directly effecting the mining operation, but both employees and supply lines have been impacted,” Imperial Metals vice-president of corporate affairs Steve Robertson told the Tribune Tuesday. “Fires are threatening the homes of many employees who live in the Williams Lake area. Some of our employees have been evacuated and cannot make it work and many of the roads used to access the mine site are currently closed.”

Robertson said employees are reassigned as required.

“For example, the mill did not operate last night, but is back up running this morning,” Robertson said. “The company is wanting the employees to look after things on the home front as a first priority and we support that.”

United Steelworkers Union Local 1-425 president Paul French said that all the big industry in and around Williams Lake is worrying about employees and people first and then, of course concentrating on their investments and operations.

“But I think it’s a really important gesture that all the major employers as well as some of the small businesses are really looking out for the people,” French said.

French has been stuck in Prince George since the weekend.

“I was in Edmonton. The kids were playing ball up here and I couldn’t get back because we didn’t leave Edmonton until Sunday.”

French said he visited the evacuation centre at College of New Caledonia and saw many people from the Williams Lake area.

“Everyone seems quite – well they are quite nervously happy if I can say that,” he said of the evacuees. “They are in good spirits but pretty worried.”

When asked what it looks like in Prince George Tuesday morning French said it was smoky and the sun was bright.

Robertson said many Red Chris Mine employees also live in the Williams Lake area, and have been evacuated from their homes or are on evacuation alert.

With the temporary closure of the Williams Lake airport, Red Chris charter flights from Williams Lake to Dease Lake have also been cancelled.

“We are reorganizing our crews and adjusting charter flights into Dease Lake to maintain staffing levels at the Red Chris mine,” he added.

Taseko Mines Ltd. vice-president of corporate affairs Brian Battison said the fires have not directly impacted mine operations at Gibraltar Mines near Williams Lake, but they are having impacts on employees who live in communities currently under evacuation order or alert.

“The highest priority and obligation for our employees is the safety and security of their homes and families,” Battison said Tuesday.

With Williams Lake under evacuation alert some employees are attending to that higher priority and shift schedules are being adjusted accordingly, he added.

“The mine is currently operating however the severity of the fires in the region presents a dynamic and evolving situation, so should things change a statement regarding operation status will be published.”

Just Posted

Vital Information Program part of community preparedness and residents’ safety

The VIP is provided free to seniors, to provide critical information to emergency personnel

Rodeo preparations are year-round

The rodeo season doesn’t gear up till April, but Quesnel riders are already getting ready

Letter: provincial residents should have ability to enjoy nature

Green Party’s Weaver re-introduces bill to increase British Columbian’s access to nature

Quesnel youth Riley Wyssen has amazing goals

Marian Gillard interviews this remarkable young girl and finds a depth well beyond her years

Letter: parents, students, staff have been waiting for new school to replace QJS

Quesnel District Parent Advisory Council wants action from education minister

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Tom Brady leads Patriots back to Super Bowl, top Jaguars 24-20

New England to face winner of Sunday night’s game between Minnesota and Philadelphia on Feb. 4

Mountain caribou habitat protection target of COS patrols

A patrol by the COS resulted in the location of snowmobiles operating in protected caribou habitat.

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Final phase of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy trials to kick off in B.C.

Doctors hope to get psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy legalized in Canada and the U.S. by 2021

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

Most Read