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Birds to blame for Oliver brush fire: official

Fire officials say birds hit a power line causing sparks that ignited the grass fire on Saturday.
Fire officials say birds hit a power line causing sparks that ignited the grass fire on Saturday. Oliver Daily News

The Oliver Fire Department says wildlife is to blame for a brush fire that ignited near Tucelnuit Drive in Oliver, B.C., on Saturday afternoon.

Fire department spokesperson Rob Graham said crews responded to the blaze around 2 p.m. and contained the fire to an area of approximately 300 square feet by 500 square feet.

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“In the area, there are FortisBC power lines and there is a larger transformer there,” he said. “We found a couple of birds that had touched some power lines and ended up causing the fire.”

Wild grass and sagebrush ignited when birds struck a power line in the area and fell to the ground, according to fire officials.
Wild grass and sagebrush ignited when birds struck a power line in the area and fell to the ground, according to fire officials. Oliver Daily News

Migrant farmworkers reside in a home on the vineyard adjacent to the scene of the fire, but Graham said evacuations were not necessary as the irrigation water canal acted as a fire break.

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Two members of the RCMP’s Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU-BC) were spotted at the scene in an unmarked vehicle.

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“As to why they were there? I couldn’t tell you,” Graham said.

He believes the gang unit members may be in town related to a separate incident and followed emergency vehicles to the scene out of curiosity.

Sgt. Brenda Winpenny with the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (BC-CFSEU) says the uniform gang enforcement team was asked to attend the Oliver and Osoyoos area this weekend to assist with “proactive enforcement,” but no details were provided.

On June 13, 21-year-old Noah Zakall was gunned down at his home on Sandpoint Drive. His family and neighbours told Global News they believe the shooting may have been drug-related.