Historic Kettle Valley trestle bridge on fire due to tossed cigarette: witness

Ladner Creek Trestle fire one of two wildfires burning in Hope and Fraser Canyon

Witnesses say it was a cigarette butt that’s started a fire on the historic Ladner Creek Trestle Bridge – a popular lookout destination for avid hikers and tourists.

Accordinf to which continues to burn two days after the B.C. Wildfire Service first started fighting the fire.

The bridge fire is one of two wildfires burning around Hope and the Fraser Canyon, the other being a one-hectare fire in Boston Bar caused by a campfire. B.C. Wildfire Service is fighting both fires, neither of which appear to be endangering any lives or ‘values’, the term the service uses for homes and structures of value.

The fire at the historic trestle bridge has been burning since May 27, not an unusual time for a fire as complex as this one said fire information officer Jeanne Larsen.

“The trestle framework is made out of steel, the cross pieces at the top where the train would go over is very old wood and it was rotten…Somehow that caught on fire that wood. That’s the only part of the trestle that’s burning and those burning pieces are dropping down into the valley bottom,” Larsen said.

Fighting this fire is complex, Larsen added, and crews must be very cautious in case of hot, dry and windy weather conditions.

“We can’t put our people out on that trestle, it’s just not safe in any way. So the best they can do is begin below the trestle and as the burning material drops down and ignites the little round fires, they are there to extinguish,” she said.

After extinguishing the burning pieces of wood falling from the bridge, fire crews then need to ensure no embers are left behind which could ignite more fires this summer. They do this by cold trailing — putting their hands down into the nooks and crannies on the forest floor, checking for heat.

The cause of the bridge fire is unknown at this point, Larsen said. Witnesses have posted on social media, stating the cause was a cigarette.

“Yesterday one careless person and their cigarette burnt down a bridge that’s been standing beautifully for over 100 years,” Mallory Mogg posted on Instagram.

The trestle bridge is part of the historic Kettle Valley Railway, 29 kilometres north of Hope along the Coquihalla highway.

The second fire near Boston Bar was discovered by the wildfire service on May 21, it is under control and there are no residences affected. More information could not be provided about the second fire.

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