With the temperature reaching about 40 C, Shuswap firefighters had a challenging afternoon with two blazes on neighbouring properties.
At 4:15 p.m. on Tuesday, June 29, firefighters in Salmon Arm were called to a barn fire at a property on 40th Street NE. Thick plumes of black smoke could be seen at the top of the hill between Salmon Arm and Canoe.
Upon arrival, fire crews found what Fire Chief Brad Shirley described as “heavy fire conditions” involving two workshops in close proximity. All Salmon Arm fire halls were called to assist.
Flames were reported to be about 20 feet in the air at one point. One person said several bangs were heard after the fire started.
“Unfortunately, the structures and some collector automobiles in the shop were completely destroyed,” said Shirley.
A hay barn also caught fire but firefighters were able to extinguish it, saving the structure and its contents.
Meanwhile, another fire was reported at a neighbouring property where part of a field and trees had ignited. Shirley said this fire was likely caused by flying firebrands or roofing materials from the barn/shop fires.
BC Wildfire Service personnel were brought in to assist, as was the Ranchero Deep Creek Fire Department.
“We were pretty much all hands on deck initially, and we didn’t want to find ourselves being overwhelmed,” said Shirley.
Although the smoke had dwindled to sparse grey clouds by about 5:30 p.m., emergency crews remained on guard.
The Shuswap Emergency Program attended the fire with a command unit used to help monitor and rehabilitate firefighters by keeping them cool. As with all structure fires, BC Health Services had an ambulance on scene as well.
“During monitoring our firefighters in rehab it was determined one should be admitted to hospital as a precautionary measure for heat exhaustion,” said Shirley, adding three other firefighters were taken to hospital throughout the evening for the same reason. All were later released and are in good health.
RCMP also provided assistance, directing traffic and helping to keep the public away from the scene.
“The RCMP were on scene very quickly and dealt with that for us very promptly, and certainly we appreciate their work,” said Shirley.
Firefighters were at the property for about seven hours.
Shirley said the extreme heat made the blaze very challenging to work around. He commended all firefighters who helped contain and control the two fires, and expressed his gratitude to everyone else who provided support.
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