Firefighters hike up trail to extinguish fire started by abandoned campfire

Kootenay Boundary Fire Rescue gets early morning call for fire on trail above hospital

Fireworks didn’t cause any problems for firefighters in the Trail area on Canada Day, but people watching them did.

Firefighters from Trail and Warfield were called out early Sunday morning to fight a brush fire near the flag lookout on the bench above the hospital.

The call came in at approximately 4:30 a.m. and crews were on the scene at 5:40 a.m.

Just getting to the fire was a good workout for firefighters, says Rick Morris, Acting Captain of the Kootenay-Boundary Fire Rescue service.

“We staged at the switchback below the hospital. We have our forestry gear and we basically hiked it all up there with backpacks, we have the smaller stuff in packs, and we carry pumps, hand tools, shovels and pulaskis by hand.”

After cutting a fire line around the fire, a nearby pond proved convenient for crews, who used water from it to put out the blaze. Morris told the Trail Times the 30-metre-by-30-metre fire was under control in about an hour, and out by noon.

A camping tent pitched on the site was destroyed in the fire, but the campers had taken off.

“It looks like somebody got up there, set up a tent, and had a fire in the middle of the trees. It’s not a proper camping area,” said Morris. “There were a lot of dry needles on ground, and the campfire was warm to touch on the scene, but no one was around. The scene had been abandoned.”

Meanwhile, it was a reasonably quiet long weekend for provincial firefighters in the Kootenays.

Karlie Shaughnessy of the Southeast Fire District says work continues on a 25-hectare fire near Burton, a community on Arrow Lake. Fire crews and an helicopter have the week-old blaze 60 per cent contained.

On Sunday, wildfire crews were called out to assist the Salmo Fire Department fight a half-hectare fire near Sheep Creek. On Monday the fire was 70 per cent contained.

The new month comes with tighter restrictions on fires in the province’s southeast.

On Monday at noon, the Southeast Fire District imposed a Category 2 ban on open fires throughout the region.

The Category 2 ban also forbids the burning of any waste, slash or other materials, as well as stubble or grass fires of any size over any area.

The prohibition does not ban smaller campfires, a half-metre high by a half-metre wide or smaller, and it does not apply to cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes.

The higher-level prohibition starting Monday covers all BC Parks, Crown lands and private lands, but does not apply within the boundaries of a local government that has forest fire prevention bylaws and is serviced by a fire department.

BC Wildfire Service says the bulk of fires that started this weekend across the province were caused by people.

Spokeswoman Claire Allen says there were about 30 new wildfire starts over the weekend and 20 of them are believed to be human-caused.

Crews have yet to contain a 60-hectare blaze near Harrison Hot Springs that is among those suspected to be human-caused.

The fire isn’t threatening any homes or properties, but recreation areas remain blocked off to give crews clear access to forest service roads.

Another human-caused fire in the Whistler-Blackcomb resort area is less than half a hectare in size and Allen says the fire is expected to be contained soon.

A 156-hectare fire near Kamloops was 80 per cent contained by Monday morning while a 25-hectare fire in West Kootenay is 60 per cent contained.

With files from Canadian Press

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