Brad Shirley photo Salmon Arm Fire Department members Steven St.Denis and Tyler Stevenson are in Williams Lake with Tender 1 to help with the wildfires.

Fire equipment heads to Williams Lake

Quick actions by Salmon Arm firefighters shut down a fire at a local campground.

Members from all four fire halls were at Hall 3 for a briefing on the current extreme fire risk in Salmon Arm when they were interrupted by a call to respond to a power pole fire at Salmon Arm Camping Resort on Highway 97B NE, next to R.J. Haney Heritage Village.

Fire Chief Brad Shirley says he was bringing firefighters up to date on the provincial fire situation and what to expect locally if a wildfire starts here, when the call came in at 7:30 p.m.

Halls 1 and 2 responded with about 30 firefighters who arrived to find a power pole sparking and arcing from a transformer.

“Crews started investigating and found hydro-related problems in a cabin and house on the campground; there must have been some kind of high voltage that went through a number of buildings and RVs,” Shirley says.

“A number of small fires were extinguished and Hydro was called in to repair the transformer and lines.”

Firefighters were on-scene for two-and-a-half-hours and no one was injured.

Campground owner Antonietta Muto is extremely grateful to firefighters and police who responded so quickly.

“Nothing was burnt down, it was just wires that sparked – sparks but no flames,” a grateful Muto said Wednesday. “A transformer blew and they were here really quickly and ensured everyone’s safety. We want to thank them very much.”

Muto is also grateful to BC Hydro for getting power back on in two hours and Shaw, whose repair crew was on-site by 8 a.m. and had the system back up by 10.

She says most of the damage was to inverters in appliances and she is working with Country Camping to help RV owners get their units repaired and the campground fully operational.

BC Hydro rep Jen Walker-Larsen says the cause of the fire was a service overload due to “a big draw from air conditioners” located in RVs, and that the campground owners should be looking at upgrading the service.

In terms of the province’s wildfire situation, Shirley says another briefing will be held soon for the firefighters who left to respond to the power pole incident.

In the meantime, the Salmon Arm Fire Department responded to a request from the provincial Office of the Fire Commissioner by sending a water tender to Williams Lake.

The request was received at 2:15 p.m. Tuesday and Steven St.Denis and Tyler Stevenson were chosen from an established list of available personnel who could go on a provincial deployment.

“They were on the road to Williams Lake by shortly after 4 p.m., arrived at 9:30 at night and were heading to a 10 a.m. debriefing today,” Shirley said Wednesday.

“The fire commissioner wanted them there last night because of the weather changes expected and its negative effect on the fire situation.”

Shirley says he is receiving debriefings twice a day.

“Although we had two apparatus on the list, we’ve determined because of the extreme fire hazard in our area, we are only deploying one,” he says, noting St. Denis and Stevenson will be deployed anywhere from six to 14 days.

He says the Salmon Arm Fire Department works closely with the BC Wildfire Service to protect Salmon Arm and area from forest fires.

“There were lots of lessons learned,” says Shirley of the Silver Creek Forest Fire. “Things have improved since 1998.”