Kamloops filmmaker releasing doc on Logan Lake's FireSmart success in face of 2021 Tremont Creek fire

2021 wildfire on big screen

The community of Logan Lake spent 18 years becoming the first FireSmart community in Canada, and now a Kamloops filmmaker has put together a documentary looking at the blaze that nearly destroyed the community two summers ago.

Vesta Giles is writer, director and producer of The Test, a documentary about the out-of-control Tremont Creek wildfire that burned into Logan Lake’s municipal boundary in the summer of 2021.

No structures were lost to the fire, an outcome Giles credits to ongoing FireSmart initiatives that aided in mitigating the damage.

“The Test is about the town of Logan Lake, which spent 18 years becoming the first fire smart community in Canada and they've been doing it since 2003 trying to get ready for a fire that they hoped would never come,” Giles said.

“Then in 2021, it did come. And so I have a day job in Logan Lake and when we were evacuated that was my first thought — because they were the first FireSmart community in Canada, that program was being put to the test.”

Giles said her crew of filmmakers were the first allowed into the burned area following the fire, prior to acquiring funding for the film.

“One of the big challenges for doing this documentary is that there were no film crews allowed in,” she said.

“We're relying on what I would call wild footage and that's cellphone footage from firefighters that were there. We've even got some doorbell cameras that we've got access to.”

Filming with a team of four, with occasional production assistants brought in to aid with lighting, Giles said the team filmed in Summerland, Apex Mountain and at the legislature in Victoria.

She said the budget of the documentary is approximately $175,000. Giles said funds were raised from FireSmart and various other organizations, including Highland Valley Copper and the District of Logan Lake.

Giles said what attracted her to the project was the passion she saw from those fighting the wildfire, as well as the success of the initiative in protecting the community.

“I saw how scared they were when they were evacuated and I saw how passionate the local government was about FireSmart and about keeping people safe and I thought these are people that have really put their all on wildfire,” Giles said.

“One of the guys who was involved in the early Firesmart days, he talks about wildfire management around the world And he just said it was it was good to have a success story and he said After they'd had so many losses It was good to see something that worked.”

Giles said the documentary is currently completing sound editing, but she is hoping to premier the film in Kamloops next month before it is widely released on YouTube in May.

She said she hopes audiences will take away the personal responsibility they have to protect their community from wildfires.

“All the work that those crews did to fight the fire was done on land that was treated for FireSmart purposes and it was more effective,” Giles said.

"I’m hoping that that people will recognize that there is something they can do — they're not hopeless — that there's something they can do to protect themselves from wildfire.”

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