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Dumpster torched

Another dumpster fire may be added to the growing list of suspicious fires in the North Okanagan as Coldstream fires crews battled the 20-foot flames late Tuesday night.

Coldstream Fire Chief Shane Code says they received the call at 11:30 p.m. and were able to respond quickly, despite the time of night, as members of his team were already at the hall for a training night.

“Before they had even finished the page we were rolling to the call,” says Code. “By all indications we were not expecting anything huge, but by the time we were rolling down Kalamalka Lake Road we could see a large visible fire from across the lake, which usually indicates a structure, not a garbage can or dumpster, so we didn't know what we were getting into.”

When crews arrived they found the fire in a very large industrial dumpster; they needed a ladder to get into it. Code says it was located on the lot of a house under construction at the end of Graystone Drive. It was being used for construction material, the contents made the fire that much tougher to battle.

“We tried to get a handle on it, but there were huge flames about 20-feet in the air. We were concerned about the nearby contractors trailer and the house under construction 40-feet away,” says Code. “Fortunately there were no huge issues, we did have a hard time getting a choke-hold on this fire, which is odd for a dumpster, so we were there for three hours as it was packed to the gunwales with all construction type material.”

Fire crews actually had to haul everything out the trailer onto the street and douse it all down to get the fire under control before putting it all back in the dumpster.

Code says the fire is very suspicious and it did not act as a normal dumpster fire.

“Usually it smokes, and smokes for hours, and when it's packed and the wood is that thick and that dense the oxygen is not getting to it and it is not fuelling it that much. Where in this case in three-minutes it was rolling, and from what, I have to ask?” Code points out, “It was 11:30 at night and all those houses on that block were empty so it looks very suspicious and we have turned it over to the RCMP and they are taking it seriously.”

North Okanagan RCMP spokesman Gord Molendyk says that the RCMP and the Coldstream Fire Department are continuing to investigate. They are not confirming its connection with the other 14 suspicious fires in the area.

If you have information about these fires call the Vernon RCMP (250) 545-7171 or Crime Stoppers.

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