Nobody was injured in a house fire that took place on Chawathil First Nation Sunday night (Jan. 15), but the incident shows that “a step in the right direction” is being made between the band and the District of Hope.
At 6 p.m., Chawathil council received reports that one of their houses — believed to be abandoned — had caught on fire. Chawathil councillor Aaron Pete says that around 7:20 p.m. the band received word that Hope firefighters were en route and would be arriving shortly.
The fire was put out at around 8 p.m., though the house was burned to the ground.
Pete is commending the District of Hope for responding to the fire — despite a fire services agreement still being negotiated between the two communities.
“I think this is a huge sign of good faith in regards to our fire services agreement,” says Pete. “We are in the works of signing a long-term agreement with [the District of Hope]. And the fact that they came out, prior to having the agreement signed, shows that we’re moving in the right direction. And that they’re committed to working closer with First Nation communities.”
The cause of the fire is unknown and is currently under investigation. It is suspected, however, that the house might have been occupied by squatters. This, says Pete, raises the concern that more housing is needed in their community, which is a priority for their nation.
“I think this event shows the need for collaboration among First Nation communities and municipalities. So we can have various responses, and be able to reach out to our neighbours to work together to address emergencies.”