Burn pile gets out of hand causing brush fire

Shuswap fire chief encourages taking wood waste to landfill instead of burning

A smouldering burn pile that got out of hand is to blame for a brush fire that occurred near the Balmoral Store.

On Tuesday, April 2, at about 2 p.m., the Shuswap Fire Department responded to the blaze on property at the corner of Balmoral and White Lake roads. Fifteen firefighters and three trucks, including a White Lake Fire Department crew, were quick to knock down the fire before spending about two hours hitting hot spots and mopping up.

“A gentleman had a couple of burn piles going and one burn pile had gotten away from him into the tall grass, and it just spread because it’s been so dry…,” said Shuswap Fire Department Fire Chief Gary Hoult. “That just took off and it was spreading across the field.”

Read more: Unusually dry March leads to dozens of grass fires in B.C.

Read more: Firefighters respond to brush fire behind Balmoral Store

While the roads provided a fire break to help contain the blaze, the fire did come close to nearby marine repair business.

“The fire got within five feet of the canoes and probably within 50 feet of his building,” said Hoult.

Hoult said they were able to surround the fire with the three trucks and work it from different sides until it was out.

The fire chief notes the recent dry weather is similar to what it was like at this time last year, and he was grateful that rain is in the forecast. That said, Hoult wanted to remind the public that the Columbia Shuswap Regional District landfills accept yard waste year round, including tree branches up to 19-cm in diameter.

“It’s like last year – right up to May we were bone dry in the area,” said Hoult. “We were warning everybody not to even do their (burn) piles, but people do it because they get a permit and then they see the burning index on the BC Wildfire site is good. They’ve got their number from forestry to burn and they burn it.

“Normally, if you’ve got the equipment around and somebody is monitoring it all the time, then you usually don’t have a problem. But I mean, there was no water onsite. Usually some will tow a big 800 gallon water tank and have it sitting there just in case.”

Read more: Regulations need to change for logging debris on-site, says BC Forest Practices Board

Read more: Update: BC Wildfire Service contains both Chase fires

The B.C. government asks that individuals, before resorting to burning, look for other ways to dispose of material, to burn only during good venting conditions, to burn efficiently “by lighting a quick burning and hot fire that produces a minimum amount of smoke,” and to make sure the material to burn has been dried for at least six months.

The province’s interactive vending index map for Wednesday, April 3, advised against open burns as venting was poor.


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