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Castlegar sees 8 suspicious fires in 8 days

A timeline of the recent string of fires
A wildland fire in Fairview grew to 100 metres by 200 metres on July 30. Photo: CFD

The last two weeks have been incredibly busy for Castlegar’s volunteer fire department as they have been tasked not only with putting out numerous suspicious fires, but now a wildfire as well.

CFD responded to seven suspicious fires in the month of July and there has already been at least four more suspicious fires in the area in August.

Here is a timeline of the most recent fires.

July 29: Two fires are reported in Blueberry around 9 p.m.

July 30: Afew hours after the Blueberry fires, a wildland fire in Fairview is reported at 3:42 a.m. after someone heard the sound of crackling in a forested area.

The fire was under control in less than an hour, but mop up continued throughout the day and CFD continued to monitor the fire for hot spots and flare ups for several more days.

July 31: Around 5:30 p.m., CFD responded to a grass fire approximately two metres by two metres in a semi-treed area between Connors Road and the Dairy Queen.

The fire was knocked down by neighbours that smelled burning grass.

Aug. 4: Around 8:30 a.m. an alert neighbour reported a fire on the river bank opposite Zuckerberg Island, near the suspension bridge.

When fire crews arrived on scene, the brush fire was approximately six metres by six metres in size. Firefighters quickly deployed hoses and got the fire under control before it spread any further. No one was located near the scene of the fire and neighbours did not see anyone coming or going from the area.

Aug 4: Around 11 p.m., Kootenay Boundary Fire Rescue found the Canadian Pacific trestle bridge that crosses Lower China Creek in Genelle fully engulfed in flames.

The fire caused extensive damage to the rail system and bridge and the cost of repairs is estimated at $1 million.

Aug 5: Around 2 p.m. CFD responded to a fire near the train tracks above Speedy Glass at about the 1000 block of Columbia Avenue.

Aug 5: Around 5 p.m. the Davidson Brook wildfire was reported by someone who saw the smoke from Ootischenia. The fire is roughly in line with the day’s earlier fire, but further up the hill toward the west.

On Aug. 8, the status of the fire was updated to “being held”, which means it is not likely to spread beyond predetermined boundaries under current conditions.

PHOTOS: Attacking Castlegar’s wildfire

Person of interest

Castlegar RCMP say they have identified a “person of interest” in relation to a number of suspicious fires in the Castlegar area in recent months.

“Castlegar RCMP has been investigating all reported suspicious fires in partnership with Castlegar Fire Department,” Cpl. Jason Olney told Castlegar News.

“There has been a concerning amount of fires found to be unattended. Most of the fires are still under investigation with a person of interest identified.”

Police have arrested one suspect in relation to one fire at a downtown Castlegar business in June.

Citizens are encouraged to be alert and to report anything suspicious to the local RCMP detachment.

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READ MORE: Seven wildfires burning within 12 km of Nelson

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Betsy Kline

About the Author: Betsy Kline

After spending several years as a freelance writer for the Castlegar News, Betsy joined the editorial staff as a reporter in March of 2015. In 2020, she moved into the editor's position.
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