Grassfire in Oliver ignited from crews working on a power pole

Fire ignited from power pole

The grassfire that ignited yesterday on the western edge of Oliver was caused by work that was being done to a power pole at a construction site on Spartan Street.

The fire presents no danger to structures and is currently listed at 4.5 hectares and “being held”.

The Oliver Fire Department (OFD) was called out around 12:30 p.m. Sept. 11 to a grassfire behind the highschool on the hillside of Oliver Mountain.

Rob Graham, public relations with the OFD explained that they responded with their side by side bush truck, which has firefighting equipment and some water capability along with a fire engine.

“We responded with those to start actioning the fire. The fire was moving fairly quickly. So being that it's all sagebrush and ground surface grasses, it's wasn’t moving as intensely as it would if it was more trees and that type of terrain,” Graham explained.

The fire was burning in terrain that was inaccessible for the fire department crews so they notified BC Wildfire Service and requested assistance in whatever capacity they could provide.

“They were able to activate a couple of helicopters, one helicopter initially and then two helicopters bucketing the perimeter. They did have a bird dog and tanker support in the air. But the helicopters were able to action the fire quick enough that air tankers weren't required,” Graham said.

The fire was visible from town, but because of the terrain and the fuel that was present there was not a major risk to structures, Graham explained. “It was pretty close to town … but I don't feel that there was a major threat to structures, but we started to set up water protection, protection on some structures in those areas just to help with some of the cooling of the area, keeping the perimeter wet and from [fire] actually getting in close to homes.”

As for the cause of the fire, Graham explained that he does not know exactly what happened, but “at a construction site off of Spartan Street there was a Fortis crew that was working on a power pole there … something happened and caused some sparking which ended up into the grass below. I don't know if they initially knew that they had sparked a fire but they noticed the smoke and called it in and tried to deal with it with some garden hoses as best they could, but by then it had just started to move too quickly.”

BC Wildfire and OFD stayed on the scene till around 7 p.m., actioning any hotspots and the perimeter. Since the fire is in OFD’s jurisdiction BC Wildfire will most likely not be back, Graham said.

Graham explained that it is still very dry out and the risk for fire is still high and people should take precautions. “It's quite dry out there. I know it's September, we're not outside of our fire season. Fires that are burning in the area are going to be burning for quite some time well in the fall, even wintertime.

“So just be diligent and conscious of what you're doing outside if you're nearby grasslands. We've had fires started in previous years from people grinding stuff, so it can be that easy.”

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