A logging truck fire near Cherryville has sparked outrage in the Interior community, as three B.C. wildfire firefighters arrived but allegedly did nothing to douse the flames.
The fire happened along a forest service road.
“It was like a wall hit you just as the tire blew out, just the shock,” said Cherryville resident Lee Laviolette.
“You can just hear the deep, crackling, rumbling roar, and just plastics and metal burning.”
Cherryville resident Eugene Foisy was told the firefighters couldn’t touch the fire.
“And I said, ‘What do you mean, you can’t touch it?’” Foisy recalled. “This thing’s going to blow. Fuel tanks haven’t caught on fire yet, and we’ve got to get this thing out. ‘No, we can’t touch it.’”
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Local residents worried the fire would spread into the trees, so Foisy ran to get his own personal water tank, then rushed back to put the fire out.
“This is BS that when a fire’s going and you can sit 100 feet from it and let it burn. ‘Oh, it’s not in the timber yet.’ It’s on the forest service road. Why do you have to let it get to be a mountain fire before you fight it? Let’s put it out. But they didn’t.”
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B.C. Wildfire Service says its crews aren’t trained to respond to vehicle fires, adding it doesn’t have the proper safety equipment.
“Our firefighters were there in the event that it spread to the surrounding area. They would have actioned it if it had done so,” said fire information officer Taylor MacDonald.
But that’s not good enough, say those whose homes would be in danger — if the forest did go up in flames.
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“I think it’s ridiculous. You’re here. You have the equipment to put it out. Why would you not put it out?” asked Connie Foisy.
“It makes no sense to me. No common sense whatsoever. If that’s their policy — that they’re not allowed — then that policy needs to change.”
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Eugene Foisy added “this is all bushland. No matter where you go from here, this is bushland, and there’s 1,000 people living here. It could be just disastrous.”
Residents want the government to reconsider its rules. They say it shouldn’t matter what’s on fire — if firefighters are called to a blaze and they respond, they should put it out before it’s too late.
However, BCWS said there are major differences between wildfires and vehicle fires.
“BCWS doesn’t respond to vehicle fires,” said MacDonald, “because it’s not safe for our crews.
“With vehicle fires, they require breathing apparatuses — and our crews aren’t equipped with those – for the chemicals from vehicles, tires, engines and whatnot. It’s just really unsafe for us to do so.”
MacDonald added “when there is a vehicle fire, oftentimes, we are alerted just in the event that it spreads to the surrounding area, and that’s when we step in.”