The Salmon Arm Fire Department uses an extending ladder truck to douse flames near the top of an approximate 70-foot tree that was struck by lightning Saturday night, Sept. 8 in the 1300 block of Foothill Road. (Martha Wickett/Salmon Arm Observer)

Thunderstorm shuts down Salmon Arm Fall Fair early Saturday night, ignites tree

Fair expected to continue Sunday as planned

Mother Nature put an abrupt stop to activities at the Salmon Arm Fall Fair Saturday night.

Following a hot, sometimes muggy day, heavy grey clouds began to roll in around 6 p.m. It wasn’t until between 8:30 and 9 though that sprinkles of rain morphed into a humbling light show of sheet and fork lightning. The illuminated sky was soon accompanied by sheets of heavy rain.

As well as causing people to scramble for shelter and struggle to protect electrical equipment, musical instruments and the like, it soon sent Salmon Arm firefighters scrambling as well.

Although a call for a residential fire turned out to be a false alarm, several reports of a tall tree on fire were not.

Read more: Storm rampages through Interior with more than 10,000 lightning strikes

Read more: Salmon Arm Fair attendance best in 10 years

The tree, in the 1300 block of Foothill Road, stood in the 60- to 70-foot tall range and had been struck by lightning near the top.

An extending ladder truck was brought in. The ladder was swiveled around and extended high above the truck so a firefighter could get close enough to spray the hot spots with water.

After the job was done, the weather cooperated by offering another dousing of heavy rain.

Thunder and lightning continued for well over an hour Saturday night, so the Wildfire Service will be checking for spot fires in the region for the next few days. The area experienced a similarly volatile storm on Sept. 3 that had moved across the province.

A check of the Salmon Arm fairgrounds around 10 p.m. revealed that the gates were closed, although the midway lights were on, music was playing and rain was still falling.


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Sheets of rain pelt down and bounce off the street during a thunderstorm that struck Salmon Arm just before 9 p.m. on Saturday night, Sept. 8, putting a damper on fall fair festivities. (Martha Wickett/Salmon Arm Observer)

A Salmon Arm firefighter prepares to use the hose to douse flames in a tall fir tree that was struck by lightning Saturday night in the 1300 block of Foothill Road. (Martha Wickett/Salmon Arm Observer)

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