Holed up in a dried spring he’d dug earlier is how Marc Hubbard survived the Garnet fire which swept across his Greyback Mountain Road property the summer of ’94.
That’s because while 4,000 people were evacuated in the face of the wind-fuelled, advancing flames of the arson wildfire, Hubbard, a long-time guide outfitter, was not one of them.
“They tried to yard me out, the RCMP and fire guys but I just told them in a polite way to go to hell,” recalled Hubbard. “When the fire started coming up the canyon it was a scary thing, the windows started rattling, it was like 10 jets taking off at once, it was just horrendous.”
It was at that point he decided to head to the meadow where the spring was and where he had set up his commercial compressor to give him air if needed.
“It was about 12 feet deep and so I popped the lid off and it was full of snakes, so me and the snakes were friends for a little,” laughed Hubbard about the memory. “But that was the only place I had to go for an hour and a half, two hours. The first time people came and seen me was about four o’clock in the morning.”
Fortunately, unlike some of his neighbours, the family home survived the fire which eventually burned 5,500 hectares and 18 houses.
So as a member of the Guide Outfitters Association of British Columbia (GOABC) Hubbard was very much on board when he learned about the organization’s plan to help people in the Interior impacted by the wildfires there.
“When that fire hit us it was pretty crazy, there were lots of lost sleeps over it so I know exactly what’s going on with those poor folks up there,” said Hubbard. “When the word got out about the fire here, there was no shortage of people coming up and helping us, moving animals and stuff so I want to do what we can.”
GOABC is expanding its annual wild meat donation program to include victims of this summer’s fires.
“One hundred per cent it’s a way of giving back to the people,” said Hubbard. “A lot of our members and many others have gone through it and some of them are still going through it.”
Association executive director Scott Ellis is even donating food from his own freezer, including pork, salmon and moose.
“We’re in these communities, it doesn’t matter, Cache Creek, 100 Mile, Williams Lake, they’re small communities,” said Ellis about the 175-member organization. “As soon as you get out in the back country there’s outfitters, ranchers and farmers, We’re in the back country, our cabins, our lodges are there. It’s a direct impact to our people and their neighbours so we’re all in it together.”
Since its annual meat donation program began the GOABC has donated a half-million pounds of game meat to the Salvation Army and many other assistance groups.
“There’s really a lot of compassion out there for people who have been genuinely impacted and lost everything and we want to do our little part to help,” he said. “The problem is not over, there are still fires that are burning and they’re going to be burning for a long time.”
The association has also enlisted support from companies for things like transporting the meat, storing and distribution.
“This is just something we’re trying to do. Do the right thing. We’re just trying to make sure that those in need have and if there’s more we can do whether it’s a work party or whatever, we’re going to.”