Lightning sparks fire above Oasis

“A friend walked in and said, ‘Your house is on fire,’" ~ Dave Thompson

It’s hard to imagine what goes through a person’s mind after hearing a rumour his house is on fire.

That’s what happened to Trail Times columnist David Thompson when he first arrived at his favourite watering hole Wednesday afternoon.

“A friend walked in and said, ‘Your house is on fire,’” Thompson said. Keeping a level head, he phoned home immediately, but was told the situation was not quite that dire.

“But (I was told) it was dangerous, so I went home.”

As Thompson neared Teck, the nearby Tadanac exit was already obscured by smoke.

“But the wind and I were travelling in the same direction so the smoke was mostly cleared by the time I got to our home.”

He and his wife quickly packed up essentials, such as medication and work-related equipment and mustered their pets.

“Smoke was thickening and Teck security staff was unlocking gates and prowling around a gas line about 400 yards above us,” explained Thompson. “I think, that created the rapid response of helicopters and even a small plane.”

A change in wind direction during the first couple of hours helped keep the fire away from residences, Thompson speculated. “For several hours this morning, it felt like we were living in the sound track of ‘Apocalypse Now.’”

Just after 4 p.m. Wednesday, firefighters from Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue did respond to a report of a fire above Oasis, confirmed Dan Derby, deputy regional fire chief.

Regional crews remained in the residential area until BC Wildfire Services arrived, but muncipal firefighting services were not required, he added.

Now called the Hanna Creek Fire by the BC Wild Fire Services (not the Birchbank fire as circulated in social media), the wildfire was reported to be less than one hectare Thursday afternoon.

It is listed as eight kilometres northwest of Trail, with a three-man initial attack crew on site as well as a helicopter.

Elsewhere in the region, the Kelly Mountain fire near Fruitvale is noted to be 100 per cent contained and in the mop-up stage.

A quick response by BC Wildfire quashed a small fire reported near Winlaw Thursday night, thought a wildfire about 6 km northwest of Renata is showing rapid growth, Fanny Bernard, fire information officer with the Southeast Fire Centre said Thursday. Seven firefighters and one helicopter are on site, assisted by air tankers.

Further west, the 75-hectare Paulson Pass fire remains active, and not contained though no structures or communities were under threat at press time.

The 4,600-hectare fire burning west of Rock Creek was listed as 50 per cent contained Thursday afternoon, with 137 residents still on evacuation alert.

Highway 33 remains closed to the public.

For the latest information on current wildfire activity, visit bcwildfire.ca.

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