Fire chief assaulted during call out

Castlegar Fire Chief Gerry Rempel was assaulted recently during a call-out.

Castlegar Fire Chief Gerry Rempel received an unpleasant surprise when he checked out a complaint about an illegal fire on Aug. 15. The resident was none too pleased about having the fire department come out and attempt to extinguish his illegal fire and proceeded to assault the fire chief.

“People complained about the smell and the black smoke from a fire,” said Rempel. “So I attended the fire at around 9 p.m. A fellow was burning quite a number of prohibited materials. I told him we’d put the fire out and bill him for the call.”

Rempel, who was attending the fire alone, called a crew up to take care of the blaze.

“The guys were just stretching the hose out when an altercation ensued,” he said.

Rempel was not taken to the hospital, but was shaken up and sore for a few days.

The RCMP were called and the assailant, who has not been named, was arrested and spent several hours in lock-up.

Castlegar RCMP Sgt. Laurel Mathew confirmed police will recommend charges against the individual.

“When police arrived, the fellow had been detained by the fire department,” she said. “He was burning odd things like a couch which is, of course, against fire regulations. They went there to put out the fire and he started to spray them with his garden hose. A small scuffle ensued and the fire chief was assaulted. Minor assault – but an assault. The fellow was arrested and brought in to custody. We will be submitting charges of assault against him.”

Rempel says that he and the fire department have been to the property before dealing with illegal fires.

“It’s not the first time we’ve attended the property,” he said.

“It doesn’t happen very often that people get that angry. You get the odd upset person if they’re doing something wrong. This one went pretty far.”