Sparks and heat from spinning tires of a stuck SUV ignited Tuesday morning’s wildfire on Mount Woodside, the Agassiz Fire Department (AFD) confirmed on Wednesday (August 19).
According to AFD Chief Gerald Basten, firefighters were called to the 2000 block of Lougheed Highway early Tuesday morning for a report of a wildfire in the trees along the road and stretching into the nearby hills. Witnesses said the smoke was black and gray along the mountainside near an old camp. AFD called for mutual aid due to the remote location, and Popkum and North Fraser fire departments responded for water tender support as did the Seabird Island Fire Department with a one-ton mini pump fire engine to further supply water and equipment.
The vehicle – a 1986 SUV now classified as a total loss – was completely engulfed in flames approximately one kilometre up the gravel road on the western side of Mt. Woodside.
Due to the steep roads, fire engines could not reach the location of the SUV; Basten said firefighters instead relied on portable extinguishers and smaller shuttle vehicles. Firefighters were able to completely extinguish the fire before it spread a significant distance past the vehicle itself. The exact cause of the flames was heat and sparks thrown from the spinning rear tires in an attempt to get the vehicle unstuck from soft underbrush.
The B.C. Wildfire Service was notified since the fire took place on Provincial Crown Land.
The Observer has also reached out to B.C. Wildfire Services for further information.
This is the second recent wildfire of note in the Agassiz-Harrison area. A 15-hectare fire four kilometres off of Sts’ailes Forest Service Road outside of Harrison Hot Springs. This fire burned for approximately 12 days from August 2 to August 14; it was also classified as human-caused.
Neither fire in the Agassiz-Harrison area posed an immediate threat to properties or other values outside of the burned SUV.
As of Monday afternoon, there were 568 wildfires in 2020 throughout the province with 152 starting in the past seven days. Sixty-seven fires are active as of Monday with 11 starting in the past two days. About 64 per cent of active fires were lightning-caused.
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