A grass fire burns near Elko on April 11. Photo Submitted

A grass fire burns near Elko on April 11. Photo Submitted

Firefighters contain grass fire near Elko

The fire was started accidentally in the afternoon of April 11, 2020

Members of the Elko and Baynes Lake fire departments responded to a grass fire that started in the Elko area on April 11.

According to reports from the Regional District of East Kootenay, six firefighters worked together to contain the blaze, which could have been much worse.

“A contractor was burning slash piles in an area where burning is currently permitted. Although he had taken safety precautions and had equipment on site, the fire got away in the windy conditions,” said Elk Valley and South Country Rural Fire and Rescue deputy chief Michael Hockley. “When we arrived on scene, the fire had spread into the grass and was quickly growing. Our firefighters did a good job of containing the grass fire in and around the highway. We were very lucky it wasn’t worse.”

The six firefighters were accompanied by a water tender from Baynes Lake and a fire engine from Elko. The contractor involved in burning the slash piles also assisted at the scene, as well as RCMP officers and natural resource officers in the area.

Thankfully, the fire departments had managed to contain the fire before the BC Wildfire Service had to be dispatched.

“We recognize there are people in zones where burning is still permitted trying to get spring burning done before next week when province wide restrictions come into effect. However, today is a good reminder of the importance of ensuring the burning conditions are safe,” stressed Hockley. “Anyone doing spring burning must make sure they are taking steps to be prepared by having a water source, shovel or tools, burning when it’s not windy and staying on site monitoring the fire until it is completely out.”

As of noon on April 16, 2020, the province of British Columbia will be instituting a burn ban on most open burning activities within the province. This applies to category two and three open fires, resource management open fires, the use of fireworks, the use of sky lanterns, the use of burn barrels and burn cages of any size.

Category two fires are defined by the government of British Columbia as “one to two concurrently burning piles no larger than two metres high by three metres wide” or “stubble or grass burning over an area of less than 0.2 hectares.”

Category three fires are larger and defined as “any fire larger than two metres high by three metres wide”, “three or more concurrently burning piles no larger than two metres high by three metres wide”, “one or more burning windrows” or “stubble or grass burning over an area greater than 0.2 hectares.”



editor@thefreepress.ca

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