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Blazes keep fire crews hopping
Fire, wind and foolishness kept Columbia Shuswap Regional District Fire Services busy Tuesday, Sept. 3.
The Shuswap Fire Department was called out at 4 p.m. to what was initially reported as a commercial structure fire but was instead a fire in the residence at a large Tappen dairy farm.
Fire Services co-ordinator Kenn Mount says the Shuswap Fire Department was first to respond and then requested additional manpower from the Tappen-Sunnybrae Fire Department.
“There were active fire conditions in the kitchen of the residence,” says Mount. “The crews were able to suppress it but there was extension into the attic and into a utility room in the basement.”
Mount says 50 per cent of the home was damaged by the fire.
“There are compromised roof joists and floors joists and the kitchen was severely damaged as well as an office,” he says. “And there was water and smoke damage throughout.”
Mount says response by the volunteer firefighters was a good mutual aid effort, with nine members of the Tappen-Sunnybrae Firehall and 13 from the Shuswap Fire Department.
Firefighters were on-scene until 10:30 p.m.
Wednesday morning, lead investigator Art Stoll, Scotch Creek-Lee Creek fire chief, returned to the farm, where he cofirmed that no dials on the stove were in the on position.
Upon examining a wall vent for the stove, Stoll discovered it appeared the fire had burned from the inside out.
“With the intensity of the heat and the damage, he concluded it could have been the result of lightning,” says Mount. “There was confirmed lightning in the area at the time. We’re not 100 per cent sure, but it looks to be pointing in that direction.”
While firefighters were fighting the fire at the Tappen dairy farm, the White Lake Fire Department was dispatched to a brush fire on White Lake Road.
“Someone was burning in non-compliance – an oversized bonfire,” says Mount, noting a burning ban remains in place for all fires except campfires a half-metre by a half-metre in size. Forest protection officers were advised of the incident.
“White Lake resources were being utilized on a nuisance-fire burning complaint, when a neighbouring fire department had asked for mutual aid,” he said, pointing out the White Lake Fire Department was next on the list for a mutual aid request if more help was needed on the dairy farm. “It puts us in a different situation.”
Salmon Arm Zone fire protection officer Larry Osachoff confirms an investigation is underway.
“It’s unfortunate. If people are planning fall burning, they should call first and find out what the regulations are,” he says, noting that the open-burning ban remains in place at least until Oct. 1 and that date is very much dependent on the weather over the next few weeks. “We’ll start looking at that about a week before.”
On the wildfire front, a series of small but extremely intense storms ignited a few spot fires, including one on a ridge above Sicamous. One Rapattack crew was sent to the scene by truck around 5 p.m. Tuesday and action on the fire was completed on Wednesday.
“Some pretty significant storm cells rocked through here starting around 3 p.m., and then they were back to back until dark,” he says. “Then we did a lot of chasing – there was one confirmed in Anstey Arm, two in Seymour Arm and one fire that’s directly up the slope from Canoe Forest Products mill.”
With rain on the weather menu for the next few days, Osachoff expects the zone will be out of the firefighting business for a bit.
While more thunderstorm activity was expected Wednesday afternoon, Osachoff says cooler temperatures and lots of moisture were expected to quell the wildfire risks.
The weather also kept Columbia Shuswap Regional District Fire Services busy.
Strong winds associated with an intense storm that tracked from Ranchero through Canoe and Sunnybrae and into the North Shuswap caused problems with hydro wires.
The Ranchero Fire Department was called out at 5:48 p.m. after a tree downed hydro wires. The Anglemont Fire Department was dispatched when fallen trees downed wires at 6:29 p.m.