Grand Forks Fire/Rescue put out a small wildfire that broke out roughly 10 kilometres east of the city on Tuesday afternoon, May 18.
The BC Wildfire Service’s Grand Forks office alerted the department to the fire at around 1:30 p.m.
The fire started at the edge of a grassy clearing on a rural property above Gilpin Road, east of the Atwood Bridge, according to Dep. Fire Chief Rich Piché.
A log pile at the bottom of a grassy slope was burning when Piché arrived at the scene at around 1:40 p.m. Around 10 volunteer firefighters then set about battling the flames, using hoses run off two water tankers and a fire engine. The fire was thoroughly extinguished by around 3 p.m., by which point firefighters had covered the slope in flame-retardant foam.
Piché said the fire could have been much worse.
“If it had happened in July or August with the wind we had on Tuesday, the whole forest could have gone up.”
The department has responded to more grass and brush fires than he would normally have expected for this time of year.
“I’m nervous for the months ahead,” he said.
The fire appears to have been an accident, he continued. No one was home when the flames broke out, nor were there any signs of suspicious activity at the scene.
The property owner later told Piché that he had recently burned tree stumps in the grassy clearing, which Piché said may have sparked the blaze.
“In the case of a burning stump, all it takes is for an ember to catch on the wind and a fire could easily spark up — even days later.”
Piché said the property owner was “shocked” at the fire and that he was very grateful for the department’s quick response.
“I think this was a wake-up call for him,” Piché said. “I don’t think he ever thought this would happen in his wildest dreams.”
There were 11 burning wildfires in B.C. when The Gazette went to press Friday, May 21, according to the BC Wildfire Service’s website.
Anyone who sees a wildfire is asked to phone the service’s Wildfire Reporting Centre at 1-800-663-5555.