Multiple firefighting agencies responded to a grass fire along the railway tracks behind a ranch across the North Thompson River in Little Fort the evening of Monday, April 25.
“Little Fort Fire, Blackpool Fire Rescue, and Clearwater Fire Department responded, as well as a couple of CN crews who jumped in to help,” reported Blackpool Fire Rescue Chief Mike Savage.
Chu Chua Fire was also called and ready to help if needed, but later stood down once crews got control of the fire.
”As a group we worked quickly to gain control of this fire as the winds began to pick up,” said Savage.
Savage explianed when there is a fire on the east side of the North Thompson River, tenders and fire engines from the west side must off-load their water (due to the weight) in order to cross on the Little Fort Ferry, then refill their tanks on the other side before attending the blaze.
An unfortunate delay when fire is being pushed by gale force winds.
Once there, Savage said the initial attack was in trying to stop the fire from heading to buildings. The firefighters were “kept hopping” by having to go to both sides of the tracks to keep the fire contained due to the wind.
“The fire was right up to the hay shed,” said Little Fort Fire Chief Kam Jim, “The wind was awful. Sudden gusts blew smoke right at us, forced the fire in the opposite direction, as well as with it.”
Thankfully though, the hard working crews won the battle in stopping the fire from consuming any buildings, and eventually knocked it down and extinguished it.
“We are so fortunate that so many of the firefighters have taken the wildfire courses and now some of the fire departments have special trucks dedicated for this type of fire,” said Little Fort resident Pam Jim. “All trains were stopped until the fire was out. Little Fort Fire also picked up a couple of pipeline workers who were equipped and ready to assist.”
Just one day earlier, on Sunday evening, Little Fort and Blackpool crews had attended another fire that ignited near the train tracks in the Blackpool area. Crews reported it appeared someone had used Tannerite, a brand of explosive target, and left the blaze unattended. Fortunately, someone noticed the smoke and local firefighters were able to get the situation under control.
Area residents say this is a scary start to the fire season and they worry that members of the public may not be aware of how volatile fire can be in a rural area.
First Responders and emergency crews are reminding people to keep their cigarette butts contained, to use caution when out on the back roads, and to be fire smart.
“We can’t stress enough that the grass is dry and wind gusts can be your enemy,” said Savage.
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firefightersNorth Thompson ValleyWildfire season