Osoyoos firefighters chip in to battle brush fire caused after vehicle catches fire

By on October 4, 2017

Members of the Osoyoos Fire Department were kept very busy last Friday afternoon. Only minutes after attending a call after a pickup truck rolled into a ditch near Richter Lake, crews came across a brush fire on Old Richter Pass Road that was caused after a Pontiac Fiero caught on fire. Fire Chief Rick Jones said even though the brush fire took place outside the coverage area of his department, he couldn’t morally ask his volunteer members not to assist, especially when it looked like the fire might spread out of control to adjacent houses and property. The firefighters did a great job controlling the fire until provincial wildfire crews attended the scene. Keith Lacey Photo.

Several members of the Osoyoos Fire Department were kept very busy last Friday afternoon as they attended the scene of a vehicle rollover and then minutes later responded when a burning vehicle caused a potentially dangerous brush fire on Old Richter Pass Road.

Crews responded to a Chevy Sierra rolling over on Hwy. 3 near Richter Lake. Fortunately, no one was injured in that incident, said Osoyoos Fire Department Chief Rick Jones.

On their way home, the same crew observed a Pontiac Fiero had caught on fire on the edge of Old Richter Pass Road, said Jones.

That fire caused scrub grass to catch on fire and that fire was climbing rapidly up a hill towards some homes, so crews were ordered to try and put out the Fiero and start attacking the scrub grass fire, said Jones.

Because the first took place in an area where property owners don’t pay for fire service, Jones said he had to make a quick decision to have his crews battle a fire that would normally involve provincial wildfire crews.

“We just couldn’t pass by and not do anything,” he said. “When I saw the fire was climbing quickly up the hill … I didn’t feel we had any choice but to help.”

One fire truck that carries 400 gallons of water and a second one carrying 1,500 gallons quickly arrived on the scene and 10 volunteers from the Osoyoos Fire Department were on the scene for about an hour ensuring the fire remained under control until wildfire crews arrived from Cawston, said Jones.

A couple of members from the Anarchist Mountain Fire Department also helped out at the fire scene on Old Richter Pass Road, he said.

This is not the first time Jones said he has responded to a fire caused by a Pontiac Fiero.

“That model is very susceptible to catching on fire,” he said. “The owner of the car had only been insured for six hours … I don’t know exactly what happened, but the car was completely destroyed. Fortunately, the owner and his wife saw the smoke and got away before it became fully engulfed.”

Jones said the fire was spreading so rapidly when crews initially arrived on the scene that he called for a ministry water plane to be used, however, that request was quickly cancelled after crews surrounded the fire and rapidly brought it under control, he said.

Jones reiterated there is a “moral dilemma” when fires like this break out in areas where his department doesn’t have a working contract to provide fire services.

“The property owners in that area don’t have any fire protection services, but morally I just can’t walk away from a fire that potentially could have been dangerous.

“The guys in our crews wanted to help out and they did a great job until the wildfire crews arrived. We were there for about an hour until the wildfire crews got on scene.”

KEITH LACEY

Osoyoos Times

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