Update: Penticton Indian Band resident believes grassfire was intentionally set

Fire near Band fish hatchery

UPDATE: 1:55 p.m.

PIB resident Sandor Kovacs is adament the vehicle fire that grew into a small grassfire this afternoon was intentionally set.

Kovacs said he saw someone on a motorbike watching the fire, shortly after he heard a loud “kaboom” that prompted him to come out of his residence to see what was going on. He said he saw the person on the motorbike come down the hill and then drive through a field to get away.

“I walked over and I could see that it started at a pickup truck … so the gas and the tires and everything would ignite. It only took not even 30 seconds and it (the fire) was already leaving the truck,” said Kovacs.

The Penticton Fire Department, with support from the Penticton Indian Band, attacked the fire quickly. It is now contained as crews mop up hot spots.

Fire chief Larry Watkinson said the area is very dry and the quick response allowed the fire crews to contain the fire to a reasonable size.

“Real challenging circumstances just because of the situation behind us. This backs right into a community, right up the hill slope. A very challenging environment for wildland firefighting tactics, so we were really happy we were able to get it to it below the valley before the fire started climbing up that hillside.”

Watkinson could not comment on if there is an investigation into the fire being deliberately set.

The Penticton Western News has inquired with RCMP to see if they are investigating a possible criminal act and will update this story when that information becomes available.

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UPDATE: 12:45 p.m.

A reporter on scene says that the Penticton Indian Band fire depertment and Penticton Fire crews seem to have established control of the fire near the fish hatchery.

“We both heard a ‘kaboom’ and we heard someone kickstart or start their motorcross bike and then peeled up the hill,” said Sandor Kovacs, who witnessed the blaze around 12 p.m.

Kovacs said another witness called the fire department after the person on the bike allegedly left the scene.

More to come.

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Original

A car fire has extended to a grass fire near the Penticton Indian Band fish hatchery.

The size and cause of the blaze are not yet known.

A reporter is on scene.

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