Grand Forks Fire/Rescue volunteers attack a hillside fire from top to bottom Tuesday, May 18. Photo: Laurie Tritschler

Grand Forks Fire/Rescue volunteers attack a hillside fire from top to bottom Tuesday, May 18. Photo: Laurie Tritschler

Wildfire erupts at rural property east of Grand Forks

No one was hurt in the fire, according to Grand Forks/Fire Rescue

Grand Forks Fire/Rescue put out a small wildfire that broke out roughly 10 kilometres east of the city on Tuesday afternoon, May 18.

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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 smoulders at the foot of a slope which caught fire on a rural property east of Grand Forks Tuesday, May 18. Photo: Laurie Tritschler

A log pile smoulders at the foot of a slope which caught fire on a rural property east of Grand Forks Tuesday, May 18. Photo: Laurie Tritschler

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 3:00 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.

Tuesday’s 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 homeowner later told Piché that he had recently burned tree stumps in the grassy clearing, which Piché said may have sparked the fire.

“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.”

A Grand Forks Fire/Rescue volunteer stand in front of a burning log pile at the scene of Tuesday’s fire, May 18. Photo: Laurie Tritschler

A Grand Forks Fire/Rescue volunteer stand in front of a burning log pile at the scene of Tuesday’s fire, May 18. Photo: Laurie Tritschler

Piché said the homeowner 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 16 burning wildfires in B.C. as of Wednesday morning, May 19, 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.


 

@ltritsch1
laurie.tritschler@grandforksgazette.ca

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