Residents of a neighbourhood near West Kelowna breathed a sigh of relief on Tuesday after a potential fire hazard was cleaned up along Westside Road.
Local lumber company Tolko Industries didn’t create the mess near Trader’s Cove, but cleaned it up nonetheless.
“We saw that private firewood collectors left a considerable hazard in the area,” Tolko’s Chris Downey told Global News Tuesday.
“We were happy to get it cleaned up to keep the community safe.”
The mess in question spanned hundreds of feet along Westside Road and consisted of trimmings, branches and debris left behind by salvage firewood hunters on a piece of Tolko property.
In some places, the piles of leftover branches were so thick it was almost impossible to walk over them.
Residents at nearby Trader’s Cove worried that the thick fuel cover could become fodder for an interface fire.
“It’s a fire hazard,” Douglas Krupp told Global News in early April.
Krupp said many people in the small community were still suffering from stress following the Bear Creek fire in 2016.
“If not for the heroic efforts of our fire department, we could have lost our whole community,” Krupp confided.
When Global News approached Tolko to make them aware of the situation, they promised to send a crew out to investigate.
On Monday, a crew from Action Tree showed up and closed down one lane of Westside Road, then proceeded to clean up the fire hazard.
“Tolko has obviously has hired a crew, and they are doing a fantastic job of cleaning up the fire hazard that was left there by people taking the firewood,” said Krupp, who was on hand Monday to see the mitigation work being done.
While crews worked in the forest, a small front-end loader moved load after load of woody debris to Action Tree’s large chipping truck, where it was chipped up and hauled away.
The entire area has been cleaned up, and what was once a “considerable fire hazard’ has now been removed.
“To have this all cleaned up and gone, it’s fantastic,” Krupp said. ‘Everybody will sleep better.”