08/15/2013 12:55 EDT | Updated 10/15/2013 05:12 EDT

Winlaw firefighters quit protesting chief's suspension

A team of volunteer firefighters in the Slocan Valley has quit, protesting the recent suspension of their fire chief and leaving the town of Winlaw without fire protection.

Winlaw's residents were recently evacuated after jet fuel spilled into Lemon Creek.

Fire chief Jon Wollenberg says he was suspended for at least three months because he refused to provide traffic control for a public meeting at the Winlaw hall in July to discuss the fuel spill.

After his suspension, his entire volunteer staff left in protest.

"Unfortunately, the other members felt it was important for them to step down and deny their community access fire services," said Brian Carruthers, spokesman for the Regional District of the Central Kootenays (RDCK).

"The RDCK is standing behind the action that it took and we are going to be meeting with the members of the Winlaw fire department that are interested in attending to discuss how we move forward to provide fire protection to the community."

Members of the Slocan and Passmore fire departments have agreed to cover for Winlaw in the interim.