The Armstrong Spallumcheen Fire Department managed to save a home and several other buildings after a wind-driven fire ignited 5.5 km south of Armstrong, B.C., in the North Okanagan on Monday afternoon.
Fire chief Ian Cummings said firefighters were deployed at approximately 1:00 p.m. after receiving a call from an employee at the nearby Tolko sawmill about an out-of-control grass fire.
“We realized it was a lot bigger than we anticipated so we called in extra crews, notified BC Wildfire, because that is their jurisdiction being on the Indian reserve,” Cummings said.
“We also called for assistance from the Okanagan Indian Band and we had a truck from the Enderby fire department and BX Swan Lake.”
He added the fire is believed to be human-caused after a controlled burn escaped its boundaries.
“It was wind-driven so the occupants were burning some grass and it got away on them. It was unexpected and unanticipated but this time of year being so dry, there is always a concern.”
Cummings said the fire threatened a waste facility in the vicinity.
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“Our crews and some of the staff were able to extinguish that fairly quickly,” he said.
“We were concerned with the Esso and Co-op bulk plants and we put crews to protect them in the event the fire reached them.”
A house on the reserve was also protected by firefighters, he said.
“The fire was challenging. We had high transmission lines running through the property so we had to be careful with our crews. We also had heavy timber and difficult areas to access,” he said.
The BC Wildfire Service also responded and dispatched a helicopter to bucket water on the flames.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the fire was under control.
“It classified as being held, so what that means is with current resources committed, it is not likely to grow beyond its current boundary,” said Kyla Fraser, Kamloops fire centre information officer.
“We are continuing to see some smoke within the centre of the fire which may be visible from the highway.”
Fraser said the fire is mapped at 20 hectares in size and 10 firefighters are securing the perimeter of the blaze.
“Today we are seeing rank 1 behaviour, which is a smoldering ground fire.”
The Township of Spallumcheen has activated a Level #1 Emergency Operation Centre (EOC).
No structures were damaged and no injuries were sustained.