Two remote fires within two hours in Greater Trail, has Fire Chief Terry Martin reminding hikers and bikers to exercise care in the back country.
“Even though we had some rain on the weekend, it’s still very dry out there,” said Martin, referring to wild lands near Warfield and the upper Sunningdale bench. “Lots of people recreate in both those areas, and while we are not pointing fingers at anybody, we want them to be safe out there.”
Crews from Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue responded to a report of suspicious smoke above Hanna Creek Road, also known as Thunder Road, just after 1 p.m. Monday.
The call came from Teck’s fire dispatcher, with company firefighters and 22 regional members from Genelle, Trail and Montrose, teaming up to battle a lowland grass fire.
Windy conditions and the lack of an immediate water source presented a challenge for crews, explained Martin.
“We couldn’t get our trucks up there to provide water, so we had to pump water out of a local creek,” he said. “Rossland brought down a quad to transport equipment back and forth from the staging area to the actual site, and both departments worked very well together.”
The Rank 1 fire, meaning a creeping surface fire, engulfed two hectares before it was under control shortly after 2 p.m. The cause remains undetermined, and no injuries were reported.
Fire crews were just packing up from the first incident, when they were dispatched to a second wild land fire, this time on the east side of the Columbia River.
“We received the report of a fire above Sunningdale near the water treatment plant,” said Martin. “We deployed some resources from the Thunder Road incident to the Sunningdale incident, which had fire burning in some trees.”
He said the second fire was a Rank 2, meaning visible open flames that burn in the surface fuel layer.
“It was a small fire over a half acre to one acre, but wind gusts were concerning,” Martin noted. “We were able to access the site by a pickup truck and water tenders so we could extinguish it and prevent the fire from expanding.”
By 3:30 p.m. the Sunningdale fire was under control, and its cause also remains undetermined.
With two fires sparked in a short span of time, the fire department is taking notice.
“We don’t usually get fires back to back like that,” said Martin. “We are concerned, and ask people to be safe out there and use good judgement.”