Flames and explosions rock Christina Lake Marina area

On Aug. 9 at 2:30 a.m., Christina Lake Fire Rescue received a call about a possible structure fire across from the Christina Lake Marina.

A fire that burned down a cabin near the Christina Lake Marina does not look suspicious, say Grand Forks RCMP.

“That was ruled out as probably caused by a candle getting blown over on the deck of the cabin, that caught the cabin on fire,” Staff Sgt. Jim Harrison said.

On Tuesday, Aug. 9 the Christina Lake Fire Department was called to a possible structure fire across from the Christian Lake Marina at a boat access cabin.

Ken Gresley-Jones, fire chief at the Lake, said that though boat access isn’t part of the department’s jurisdiction, there was a danger that the fire could spread to adjacent cabins.

“Flames could be seen for miles and there was imminent concern of a forest fire,” Gresley-Jones said. There were also numerous explosions, believed to be from propane tanks that occurred before the crews arrived.

Equipment had to be loaded onto a boat from the two fire engines and then ferried to the fire location.

In total, 15 firefighters worked on the blaze throughout the night. They used shovels and hoses connected to portable pumps at the water’s edge to fight the fire.

A Regional District of Kootenay Boundary bylaw allows for the fire chief to respond in emergencies such as this, when the community could be in danger, despite it being outside of the jurisdiction.

“In this case, had we not responded, we would have lost several cabins and would be dealing with a major forest fire,” he said.

One of the occupants of the building and one of the firefighters each suffered minor injuries and were taken to Boundary Hospital.

Gresley-Jones, however, is not happy with the response that he received form the forest service.

The fire department has a contract with the forest service that allows it to claim compensation for taking care of wildland fires in the Christina Lake area.

The claims are based on $400 an hour per vehicle used and includes personnel and equipment.

“We submitted an invoice to the forest service for only one vehicle, covering a period of five hours, for a total of $2,000,” he said.

When the forest service called him back to say that they would only pay $15 an hour to each of the firefighters, a sum of $1,100, Gresley-Jones was surprised.

The reason given was that no vehicle was present at the scene. Gresley-Jones has sent a letter to Steve Thomson, minister of forests, lands and natural resource operations, with the hopes of settling the matter, which he said is more about the principle of honouring a contract than getting the actual money.

Karlie Shaughnessy, fire information officer for the Southeast Fire District, said that the Wildfire Management Branch would like to meet with Gresley-Jones to address his concerns. She also said they would be paying the original invoice of $2,000.

“We are reviewing the incident and will be requesting a meeting with the fire chief to understand all of the concerns and ensure a good working relationship going forward,” Shaughnessy said.

“Collaborative working relationships between us and rural fire departments are important to successful fire suppression and fire prevention.”