BRITISH COLUMBIA

Forest fire, landfill blaze keep firefighters busy in B.C.

08/20/2013 08:14 EDT | Updated 10/20/2013 05:12 EDT
OSOYOOS, B.C. - Two fires that had threatened homes in British Columbia's Interior, both caused by people, continued to burn Tuesday, but officials believed the flames were no longer an immediate threat to residents.

A wildfire near Spotted Lake, about 10 kilometres west of Osoyoos in the southern Interior, was discovered a day earlier and by Tuesday was 15 hectares in size, according to a news release from the province's wildfire management branch.

The branch said the fast-moving grass fire initially prompted the evacuation of six homes, but by Monday evening officials had determined those residents could return after determining the fire no longer posed a danger.

"This wildfire is burning close to homes in the area; however, there is currently no immediate threat to structures in the area," said a notice posted to the website of the province's wildfire management branch.

At its peak, nearly three dozen firefighters, two helicopters and give air tankers worked to bring it under control.

Crews returned to the fire on Tuesday to put out hot spots, the branch said.

It wasn't clear what precisely sparked the fire, though it was believed to have been caused by humans.

Meanwhile, about 40 residents were placed on evacuation alert on Monday after a fire broke out at a landfill in the Vernon area.

The six-hectare fire started in a grinder machine, with high winds spreading the flames to garbage, wood chips and a nearby hillside, local fire officials said.

The District of Coldstream requested the help of wildfire management branch, which sent a forest officer, six firefighters, two helicopters and air tankers.

Deputy fire Chief Lawrie Skolrood said calm winds and cool overnight temperatures helped firefighters bring the fire under control by Tuesday morning.

However, Skolrood cautioned there were still a number of spot fires and there were concerns the winds could pick up later in the day.

The dump was closed, with residents told to use a facility in Armstrong, about 20 kilometres to the north, until further notice.

Another fire at the landfill in March caused about $1 million in damage to a recycling facility at the site.

An elevated fire risk has prompted campfire bans in several areas of the province, but some of those restrictions were lifted on Tuesday.

The Ministry of Forests said campfires and certain categories of open fires would be permitted on northern Vancouver Island, on the mainland north of Hotham Sound, and in Haida Gwaii.

Bans on either campfires, open fires or both remained in effect for the southern half of Vancouver Island, several of the Gulf Islands, and the Lower Mainland.

(CKIZ, CIFC)