VANCOUVER — Family, friends and colleagues are mourning the young firefighter killed in northeastern British Columbia, the fourth fatality in one of the deadliest fire seasons in recent memory.
The family of 25-year-old Zak Muise has launched a memorial fundraiser in his name, saying in a statement that he was “loved by many” and that family members ask for privacy during this difficult time.
Police say Muise was killed on July 28 in a remote area about 150 kilometres north of Fort St. John when his heavy-duty ATV rolled over a steep drop on a gravel road.
Muise’s death is the fourth on the Canadian fire line in July, and the second in British Columbia.
Cliff Chapman, operations director at the BC Wildfire Service, says he has never in his 21-year-career at the agency felt the heaviness he and other firefighters are feeling.
Chapman says firefighters need continued support from people around the province and across Canada, since crews are “leaving their families” and “livelihoods” to support community efforts to fight fires during this record wildfire season.
The BC Wildfire Service says Muise was part of the firefighting effort against the massive Donnie Creek blaze in the province’s northeast, where an estimated 5,832 square kilometres of land have been burned.
The fire, the largest ever recorded in B.C., was initially discovered on May 12 and is expected to remain active into the fall.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 2, 2023.
The Canadian Press