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Fire near Vernon's Adventure Bay suspected to be human-caused

A helicopter drops a bucket of water on the wildfire east of Adventure Bay in Vernon on Sunday, July 31, 2016. The aggressive fire started shortly after 9 p.m. Saturday, July 30, 2016 and grew quickly due to high winds and difficult terrain.
Image Credit: Contributed/City of Vernon
August 02, 2016 - 10:26 AM

VERNON - An aggressive wildfire that forced the evacuations of 60 people over the weekend in Vernon is suspected to have been human-caused.

The fire started shortly after 9 p.m., Saturday, July 30, about 1.5 kilometres from the Adventure Bay residential community off Tronson Road.

Roughly 60 people were evacuated while teams of firefighters attacked the blaze. Many people were given just ten minutes to pack up and leave. 

Members of the Vernon Fire Department and B.C. Wildfire Service worked together to control the blaze. By the morning of Sunday, July 31, crews had the fire contained and the evacuation order was lifted.

Fire origin and cause investigators from the B.C. Wildfire Service were on scene yesterday, and will return today, Aug. 2, to study the scene.

While it is still under investigation, the fire is suspected to have been human-caused, B.C. Wildfire information officer Max Birkner says.

Vernon Fire Chief Keith Green says they are still checking to see if any lightning was recorded in the area, but if that is ruled out, they will be looking at human activity as the cause.

"They are leaning towards that (human-caused)," Green says. 

The area where the fire happened is known to be used by hikers, mountain bikers and dirt bikers, however Chief Green says it would be a bit unusual for someone to have been up there when the fire started, around 9 p.m.

While there are some trails and dirt roads in the area, they were not passable by fire trucks, which forced firefighters to haul thousands of feet of hose up steep, uneven terrain, Green says.

“I don’t even know how they did it,” Green says. “It was a job well done by everyone.”

The fire chief is reminding people they need to have a grab and go bag ready wherever they live.

“When you’re making a decision about what you’re going to take when you get ten minutes notice just shows we need to be prepared,” Green says. “Literally, the RCMP knocked on residents’ doors and said ‘you have ten minutes.’”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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