Over 20 firefighters, assisted from the air by helicopters, prevented a brush fire in a residential area of Silver Creek from spreading and endangering homes Sunday.
A brush fire started at approximately 3:30 p.m. in a lot on School Road in Silver Creek, a lot surrounded by houses and trailers on all sides as well as a forested area near Silver Creek Elementary School. Crews from Hope, Yale and the BC Wildfire Service battled the fire, assisted by the BC Ambulance Service and the RCMP, doused the fire from the ground and the air and prevented it from spreading to neighbouring properties.
“It was all hands on deck, as we say,” said Hope fire chief Tom DeSorcy. “It was moving quickly in terms of going from pile to pile, of course the extreme heat, and it was sending embers forward into other areas. Fortunately, people in the neighbourhood were already taking hoses and watering their lawns and spraying things down.”
Spence Cameron, who lives directly across from the fire on Beacon Rd., said his family initially noticed smoke and flames two and a half metres high in the neighbouring property.
“That just erupted up and then it came forward, the wind was coming towards our house a bit,” he said. The wind later shifted to the north, which kept the fire moving into the lot as opposed to neighbouring properties.
Cameron said fire crews arrived in quick succession and although he was with his two children, 2 and 6 months, he didn’t feel afraid or overly concerned about the proximity of the fire. “It was pretty neat to watch the operation. I’ve never seen those kind of belly helicopters coming in, the ones who fill up in the river with hoses. They’ll come in, fly in 30 feet above the ground and drop a load of water,” he said. “That was kind of a cool show for our little two-year-old.”
Crews worked to contain the fire, then move in and extinguish it, which is how wildfires are usually fought. They also utilized wildfire tactics to cool the air, preventing embers from spreading and igniting homes.
“The tactics that were used by (the BC Wildfire Service) to bring in water is not necessarily just dropping water onto the piles that were burning, but to actually drop water into the air and to raise the relative humidity in the air. To cool things down, to stop the embers from floating far away,” DeSorcy said, adding crews on the ground were also sending water into the air to cool it and raise the humidity.
The fire is ‘obviously human-caused’, DeSorcy said, as there were no other natural sources of ignition such as electricity or lightning present. The exact cause of the fire remains under investigation, but it is not being treated as suspicious at this point.
After crews left the scene, sprinklers remained on and Hope Fire Department members came back three nights in a row to check on hotspots. DeSorcy confirmed the fire is considered out as of Wednesday morning.
Remote Fraser Canyon, Skagit Valley fires still burning
Two fires suspected to be caused by lightning strikes are burning in the Fraser Canyon. Both are classed by the BC Wildfire Service as ‘out of control’, but neither is posing a threat to people or homes fire information assistant Dorthe Jakobsen confirmed.
A 0.3 hectare fire along Spuzzum Creek has two BC Wildfire crews attending, as well as a helicopter bucketing the fire from the air and tree fallers assisting. A fire north of the East Anderson River has 21 firefighters and two helicopters working on it, the fire’s size is so far undetermined.
“We’re having trouble getting a proper size on it. It’s estimated at 50 hectares but that’s very dubious,” Jakobsen said. The fire was initially reported as 15 hectares.
A 50 hectare fire at Silver Daisy Mountain along the Skagit River in the Skagit Valley Provincial Park, also suspected to be caused by lightning, is burning and classed as ‘active’. Another much smaller fire, at Clear Creek also in the provincial park, is at .04 hectares.