The District of Lillooet Fire Department and Ministry of Forests crews acted quickly last week to extinguish a forest fire burning in thick stands of timber near the Lillooet Airport.
Lillooet Fire Dept. Assistant Chief Darren Oike told the News the cause of the fire is “undetermined but of a suspicious nature.”
“The landowner wasn’t doing any activity up there, there was no evidence of a lightning strike and it’s been too long since we’ve had lightning activity for a fire to start now. We’ve ruled out an accidental cause,” said Oike.
He added that there is a nearby recreational trail which provides access to the site.
“There’s a possibility it’s man-caused.”
The fire was reported around 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 5. It apparently started in a slash pile.
Kamloops Wildfire Centre spokesperson Kevin Skrepnek told the News the ministry deployed 14 firefighters to assist the Lillooet Fire Department. The blaze was located within the local fire department’s jurisdiction. An air tanker was dispatched from Abbotsford to help extinguish the blaze.
The Lillooet Fire Dept. responded with its wildland fire engine and a water tender truck.
Assistant Chief Oike credited a quick response by neighbouring property owner Donald Wilson with helping to contain the spread of the fire.
“Thanks to his quick thinking, he was able to use a machine to put a guard around it.”
A three-person crew was on the scene the following morning to mop up after the fire, which consumed approximately one hectare of trees.
Last week’s blaze was the second one in the Airport Road area in recent weeks.
Skrepnek said people still need to be cautious in the woods and should be aware that fire season is not over.
“There’s no official end to fire season; that’s up to Mother Nature,” said Skrepnek. “It’s going to be hot and dry for the next little while and the fire threat is still very much present.”
Oike said the burning ban for yard waste and materials remains in place within the District of Lillooet.
“No backyard burning or land clearing is allowed, by municipal bylaw,” he said.
For updates on local burning regulations, please visit the Fire Department’s website at www.lillooetfiredept.ca