Grand Forks Fire/Rescue was called out to a string of fires at 9175 Granby Rd. Sunday morning, Nov. 8, its fifth response to the property in less than a week.
Fire Chief George Seigler told The Gazette he arrived on-scene shortly after the call came in at around 8:20 a.m. He found piles of garbage burning in or near the remnants of trailers destroyed in three fires deemed “suspicious” by department investigators, he said.
Sunday’s burn piles were strewn with plastics, metal, rubber, fibreglass insulation and pressure treated wood, according to Seigler, who is investigating what caused the fires.
It is illegal to burn these materials in British Columbia under the Environmental Management Act (EMA).
An environment ministry fact-sheet explaining the act states, “the Ministry has a range of tools to address compliance issues including orders, administrative sanctions and administrative penalties.” If proven, EMA violations can carry fines up to $1,000,000. Proven violations of the ministry’s open burn regulations can carry fines of up to $200,000, according to the fact-sheet.
Seigler said investigators aren’t sure how much it cost to put out this week’s fires at 9175 Granby Rd. They simply haven’t had time to do the math, he said.
An estimate by Deputy Chief Stephane Dionne suggests that Tuesday’s fires alone cost around $15,000 in department resources.
“Not only has responding to these incidents at 9175 Granby Road depleted our resources for responses elsewhere in our fire protection area, it’s given us a backlog of extra work,” said Seigler. “We’re behind,” he added.
“With each incident comes an investigation. With each investigation, we need to write a report … and a report needs to go to the Office of the Fire Commissioner as well.”
Grand Forks Fire/Rescue is contractually obligated to respond to fires within its designated fire protection zone, including the property at 9175 Granby Rd, according to Seigler and Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs) Duncan Redfearn and Mark Andison at the City of Grand Forks and the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB).
The first of this week’s fires at the property started some time Tuesday morning, Nov. 3, when a fifth wheel trailer and a mobile home caught fire 100 feet from each other.
Crews returned Wednesday morning, when a second fifth wheel burned to the ground and again Wednesday evening, when garbage was found burning in or near each trailer frame.
The department was called out to the property again on Friday morning, when firefighters found a third fifth wheel burning in an open pit. Investigators couldn’t identify what caused the fires, all of which have been reported “suspicious.” Seigler said he expected to finish his report into Sunday morning’s fires by Tuesday, Nov. 10.
No persons or animals were hurt in any of this week’s fires at 9175 Granby Rd., according to fire officials.