August 25, 2016 - 9:55 AM
VERNON - A North Okanagan fire chief says there’s growing angst in his community after a rash of roughly one dozen suspicious fires, including a blaze last night that threatened several homes.
BX-Swan Lake fire chief Bill Wacey says the most recent fire broke out yesterday evening, Aug. 24, just after 6 p.m. in the McLennan Road area above Swan Lake in Vernon.
The blaze grew to just under two hectares in size and climbed at least a dozen trees, Wacey says.
Three homes in the neighbourhood were threatened by the blaze, and flames came as close as 20 feet from one of the houses. Just above the immediate area, about 30 to 40 more homes could have been in danger, Wacey says.
“We were running around very quickly,” Wacey says of the attack. “We had enough resources to surround it.”
The fire department received mutual aid from Armstrong/Spallumcheen firefighters, as well as the B.C. Wildfire Service, which sent helicopters to bucket water from nearby Swan Lake onto the blaze.
Crews managed to bring the fire under control by nightfall, but remained on scene throughout the night monitoring activity and continuing to douse hot spots.
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, but Wacey says it is suspicious.
“Just for all the circumstances that arose at the start of it,” Wacey says.
He declined to comment on details, but says the police are investigating.
This is the latest suspicious blaze in a string of at least a dozen fires involving fences, hedges, campers and hiking trails since April in the BX-Swan Lake community.
“I certainly do have a bit more heightened angst from the residents in our area. They are concerned with the circumstances that seem to be developing,” Wacey says.
Anyone with information about the fires, or who witnesses suspicious activity, is asked to call the Vernon RCMP at 250-545-7171 or remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
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