A wildfire which started along Highway 3 Monday night, temporarily shutting down the highway just south of the Hope Slide, “could have been a lot worse” said Sunshine Valley fire chief Chris Terry.
The Sunshine Valley Volunteer Fire Department was the first on scene at a .2 hectare (2,000 square metre) fire on the southbound side of the highway Monday evening, they were promptly joined by six firefighters from the BC Wildfire Service. The fire is under control, fire information officer Dorthe Jakobsen confirmed.
Helicopters and two water tenders, large trucks carrying 5,700 litres of water each, helped douse the fire. Highway 3 was closed for close to two hours as crews fought the blaze in what Terry is calling a very lucky scenario.
“We were the first units on scene. We got the page at four minutes after five and twelve minutes after five we were attacking it with everything we had,” Terry said, adding 10 firefighters, three fire engines and a water tender from Sunshine Valley responded.
“It was lucky that helicopters were available, wildland crews were available, that we had a full contingent of people at that time in the afternoon and biggest thing, there was no wind yesterday…It could have been a lot worse.”
The lack of wind is very unusual, Terry said, as a brisk breeze comes up from Hope and sweeps through the area every afternoon.
With all the right conditions and resources lining up, crews were able to safely evacuate the occupants and save a home close to the highway where the fire started.
“That probably wouldn’t have happened if the wind had been a little bit stronger because it was moving very quickly like fire does uphill. Everything aligned just right,” Terry said.
A Sunshine Valley business, less than four kilometres from the fire scene, stepped in to help while under threat from the flames. Holiday Trails RV Resorts supplied water from their onsite water plant to both groups of firefighters, Don Sharpe stated in a news release.
Regan Eberding, who fought the fire Monday with the BC Wildfire Service, would not speculate on the cause of the blaze only that it was a roadside ‘incident’ and it is now under investigation. Two natural resource officers arrived on the scene at 7:30 p.m. Monday, whose areas of enforcement include investigating human-caused wildfires.
“Where it was located, right in the ditch on the side of the highway, I’m not going to say it was a cigarette butt,” Terry said, although he did confirm it was human-caused.
“Believe it or not…as we started releasing traffic down into Hope and got the highway open again, one of our firefighters saw somebody flick a cigarette butt out of the window.”
Another .05 hectare (500 square metre) fire along Highway 1 near Hells Gate in the Fraser Canyon, discovered Sunday, is also under control Jakobsen confirmed.
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