East Shuswap Road wildfire was caused by gas-powered saw: Kamloops Fire Rescue

This shot of the East Shuswap Road fire taken July 12, 2018 shows the large cloud of smoke the blaze produced.
Image Credit: TWITTER/@BCGovFireInfo

KAMLOOPS - Fire investigators can now confirm what started a human-caused wildfire in Kamloops earlier this month that scorched hundreds of hectares of land.

Chief fire prevention officer with Kamloops Fire Rescue, Dean Olstad, says the fire sparked while workers were doing some renovations at a home in the area, using a gas-powered cutoff saw to cut some angled wire.

The sparks from that went into surrounding grass and bushes, Olstad says.

The wildfire grew substantially and quickly after it first started on July 12, and was 545 hectares at its peak size before crews got a full handle on the blaze. The fire also caused some evacuation orders in the immediate area, but the fire moved away from the residential area fairly quickly.

Olstad says any time workers are performing "hot works", which can including everything from cutting to welding, there are precautions that can be taken to help prevent what we saw on East Shuswap Road.

"What we want to be careful of is any type of hazards," he says.

Work should be performed at least 15 metres away from any hazards that could catch on fire. If that's not possible, Olstad suggests soaking down the surrounding area with water before you start working, or putting fire-resistant blanks or shields to cover any combustibles.

Olstad also encourages having a fire watch person at any hot works job sites, which is basically someone to supervise the work and call out if there are any potential dangers that could arise.

It also helps to have a fire extinguisher and a reliable water source nearby.


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