Man who died fighting B.C. wildfire receives unprecedented provincial honour

Sixty-year-old John Phare died fighting Old Sechelt Mine blaze, and is the first person to receive the B.C. Medal of Good Citizenship. 

John Phare, Old Sechelt Mine blaze, B.C. wildfires, Medal of Good Citizenship
Photo courtesy of the Facebook Memorial Page for John Phare.

VICTORIA — A father of three who died fighting a forest fire on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast has been named the first recipient of the province’s Medal of Good Citizenship.

Premier Christy Clark said Tuesday that 60−year−old John Phare exemplifies the purpose of the new medal, which recognizes exemplary contributions to community life.

The tree faller who also had other forest fire jobs died last July while fighting the Old Sechelt Mine blaze.

Clark said Phare was one of thousands of firefighters who displayed courage and sacrifice during this year’s extensive and sometimes life−threatening forest fire season.

Phare’s fiancee, Kimi Hawkes, accepted the medal at a ceremony at the B.C. legislature.

"It was an honour to receive this," she said afterwards. "It’s a very special way to remember John and I think that I, and his friends and the community, really appreciate this and really take it to heart."

The Forests Ministry said provincial crews have responded to 1,823 blazes from the start of the fire season in April.

The ministry said 573 of the fires were human−caused.

Clark honoured all firefighters during the ceremony, and highlighted Phare’s sacrifice.

"They protected a lot of our forests and they protected a lot of homes and a lot of lives," she said. "But John Phare, sadly, did not make it out alive."


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