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Joe Rich wildfire was caused by vehicle exhaust; not cigarette

The 55-hectare Huckleberry wildfire in Joe Rich was caused by a burning ember from the exhaust of a transport truck, according to a report from the Ministry of Forests.
Image Credit: B.C. Wildfire
August 09, 2016 - 11:38 AM

KELOWNA – A Ministry of Forests investigation has concluded the Huckelberry wildfire in Joe Rich last summer was caused by a transport truck’s exhaust, not a cigarette.

The fire started July 3 near the Highway 33 hairpin. Close to 150 homes were evacuated and two days later the fire was only 50 per cent contained. It wasn’t until the late evening of July 5, 2015 that residents near the 55-hectare fire were allowed to return home.

A photo released by B.C. Wildfire shows the likely point of ignition along Highway 33, leading Regional District of the Central Okanagan spokesperson Bruce Smith to warn motorists to be careful when travelling through dry areas.

"In all likelihood it looks like something that was tossed from a vehicle," he said. 

While that advice remains sound, a recently released report from the Ministry of Forests says the fire was not caused by a carelessly discarded cigarette, as many speculated.

“The relative humidity at the time of ignition was above the threshold for cigarette ignitions. Therefore, a discarded cigarette could not have caused wildfire K50261,” it says. “The location of the ignition area would require a higher trajectory point and suggests that exhaust carbon from a passing transport truck is the most probable cause.”

The B.C. Trucking Association told Global Okanagan it doubts the findings of the report based on information from two engine manufacturers dismissing the conclusion.

Stretches of Highway 33 were shut down last July when a burning piece of carbon from a transport truck started a 55-hectare wildfire in Joe Rich.
Stretches of Highway 33 were shut down last July when a burning piece of carbon from a transport truck started a 55-hectare wildfire in Joe Rich.


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