British Columbia

Search for missing fire chief from flood-stricken B.C. Interior now a recovery mission, say RCMP

RCMP say the search for missing fire chief Clayton Cassidy is now a recovery mission.

Crews began searching for Clayton Cassidy after he went missing Friday

Clayton Cassidy has been missing since May 5. (Government of B.C.)

RCMP say the search for a missing fire chief feared swept away by flood waters in Cache Creek, B.C., has now turned into a recovery mission, the chief presumed dead.

Sgt. Kathleen Thain with Ashcroft RCMP said 11 search and rescue personnel are working alongside about two dozen volunteers from the local fire hall on the recovery.

"We're just doing the best we can and keeping the focus on bringing him home," Thain said. 

Clayton Cassidy, 59, was last seen just outside the village — about an hour west of Kamloops — early Friday morning checking water levels in the creek near the Brookside Campground.

Kamloops Search and Rescue (KSAR) members, fire crews and RCMP officers spent Friday and Saturday searching for Cassidy.

RCMP said his vehicle was found near a washed-out bridge where he was last spotted. Thain said crews have presumed he was swept away or fell into the water.

"It is hard. It's a small community up here, they're very tight-knit," she said. 

"Chief Cassidy is a very big part of this community. So they're coming together, they're rallying."

Dozens of volunteers, including swiftwater teams, were out looking for Cassidy. (Kamloops Search and Rescue/Facebook)

Cassidy, known for his dogged community involvement, won a B.C. award for his leadership and bravery during a past flood. 

In 2016, Premier Christy Clark lauded Cassidy for his tireless community service and grit during the 2015 Cache Creek flash floods, noting that "some people rise to the occasion and others go above and beyond."

Thain said many in the town were dropping off food and water to support the search and rescue volunteers.

"It's just been a fantastic, supportive response," Thain said. "This community is amazing." 

The province's Interior has been hit with flooding caused by heavy rains over the last few days. But Thain said the flood situation had been downgrading, with water levels dropping. 

With files from Yvette Brend and Liam Britten

Clayton Cassidy is honoured with B.C.’s Medal of Good Citizenship for his dedicated service helping Cache Creek residents stay safe and return to their homes following a devastating flood in May of 2015. (Don Craig/Government of B.C.)