For the past nine weeks, intense wildfires have been burning in Washington State as a result of extreme drought conditions, affecting an estimated eight-hundred and fifty square kilometres and approaching within five-kilometres of Republic, Kettle River-Buckhorn’s neighbouring town.
Click here to see video footage of some of the devastation.
Although the KRB operations haven’t been affected and are not at risk at this time, some KRB employees have received evacuation notices.
“We are all closely monitoring the situation. Evacuation notices are constantly changing and making sure that team members are able to keep their families and homes safe is a priority,” said Mark Ioli, Vice-President and General Manager, KRB.
Even at a difficult time, eleven KRB employees are volunteering their time as firefighters to help in the community.
“We’ve never experienced anything like this, it’s devastating. We couldn’t sit back and watch it happen without getting out and helping our neighbours and community,“ explained Ernie Miranda, Manager, Health and Safety, who is one of the volunteer firefighters. “The smoke is so heavy and the heat is intense.”
Not only are KRB volunteers battling the blaze, but also are coordinating logistics between the local fire department as well as state and federal agencies. The KRB volunteer firefighters also helped construct an eight-kilometre fire line between the fire and the community to increase water availability and provide a fire break.
Two Kinross father-son teams – John Gianukakis, Underground Production Shift Supervisor and his son Zack Gianukakis, Underground Miner as well as Boyd Hewitt, Mill Manager and son Eric Hewitt, Mill Mechanic – are also volunteer firefighters assisting those who have been evacuated.
Other Kinross volunteers are working with local shelters to transport items like food, water, clothing and toiletries.
Kinross Toronto is accepting donations for the month of September to support Washington firefighting efforts, assist evacuees and those who have lost their homes.
An aerial image of the fires in relation to KRB and Republic, WA
Some of KRB’s volunteer firefighters from left to right: Zach Gianukakis, Underground Miner, Cameron Patrick, Millwright, Glenn Booher, Underground Miner, Dan Bacon, Underground Support, Ernie Miranda, Manager, Health and Safety, Jon Jensen, Mill Maintenance Foreman, Ken Leslie, Mill Mechanic and John Gianukakis, Underground Production Shift Supervisor
Destruction from the fires in the region