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Firefighters frustrated by pair of human-caused fires in North Okanagan

The BX Swan Lake Fire Department extinguished a camper believed to have been set on fire Saturday, May 14, 2016 just off Silver Star Road.
Image Credit: BX Swan Lake Fire Department
May 16, 2016 - 11:30 AM


VERNON - Firefighters in the North Okanagan are frustrated after battling two human-caused fires in two days.

The first was on Friday, May 13, when someone called 911 to report smoke in the trees near Tillicum Road, BX Swan Lake Fire Chief Bill Wacey says.

What appeared to be a campfire had gotten out of control near the BX Falls hiking area and burned a roughly 10 to 20 metre area.

Crews acted swiftly to douse the fire and prevented it from spreading into the trees.

The next day, on Saturday May 14, crews were again called out to a human-caused fire, this time a camper had been set ablaze, Wacey says.

The camper was fully engulfed in flames on a dirt road off of Silver Star Road near the first switchbacks.

While the fires were stopped before any major damage was done, they were close calls. 

“The whole BX corridor and Silver Star corridor is an extreme-risk area,” Wacey says. “We tend to get very touchy when we see smoke through the trees, especially this time of year when it’s so dry so early.”

If it had been windy on either day, he says the fires could quickly have taken off with dire consequences.

“It’s just the lacking of thinking. To walk away and abandon a campfire when there’s been so much public discussion on it from B.C. Wildfire, and on the news, it’s a lack of common sense that drives me crazy,” Wacey says. “Until you actually experience what an interface fire does and how it moves… We’ve been lucky so far dodging bullets. As you saw in Fort McMurray, they didn’t dodge any bullets.”

An open burning ban is in effect, however campfires smaller than half a metre high by half a metre wide, as well as gas and propane cooking stoves, are currently permitted.

An unattended, illegal burn pile nearly got out of control last week near the Kelowna Airport . 

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