The Keremeos Fire Department had a busy start to their week.
On Monday, April 5, the department called in B.C. Wildfire for assistance in fighting a fire in the hills near River Road.
“It was a benched hillside and tough to get manpower and equipment to,” said fire chief Jordy Bosscha.
The department was called out to the fire around 3:30 p.m., and spent the next six hours containing and putting out the fire. On Tuesday, members of the department continued to pass by the area on patrol.
During one of those patrols, smoke was seen, which was eventually tracked down to be coming from a root system that would require an excavator to expose and fully extinguish.
The fire mostly spread on shrubs and grasses, but it did get into a nearby orchard where it consumed several older cherry trees and posed a risk of spreading to nearby buildings.
“We managed to pinch it off and knock down the head of the fire, in seconds, otherwise it would have gone above us and we wouldn’t have been able to catch it. Then it would have been heading towards the houses and some construction equipment,” said Bosscha.
Fighting the fire was made more difficult by the conditions, with gusts of wind pushing the fire on.
In addition to the two bush vehicles, two engines and utility vehicle, the 21 members of the Keremeos Fire Department were joined by four members of the B.C Wildfire Service’s Penticton Forest Zone.
On Sunday, April, a fire at Coulthard Avenue off of Highway 3 in Cawston consumed around dozen vehicles and several sheds.
That fire, which was reported to the department at 3:42 a.m., also faced some gusting winds.
“It had come in as a structure fire, and one shed is completely destroyed and the other is still standing,” said Bosscha. “It spread on the grass and got into some older willow trees that we had to cut down since they were burning up high.”
Two engines, a bush truck and a utility truck attended the fire.
The causes of both fires are under investigation.
These kinds of fires aren’t out of the ordinary, and neither is calling for support from B.C. Wildfire at this time of year, according to the fire chief.
“Quite regularly we have forestry out helping us with burns in the area around once or twice a year, let’s say it’s not abnormal,” said Bosscha.
The fire chief advised residents to follow all the rules and regulations when it comes to fires, including burning only on good venting days, ensuring that fires are extinguished and cold to the touch before walking away so that wind doesn’t spread any embers and have fire fighting equipment and tools on hand.
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