Forest Grove bush fire doused

Mutual firefighting effort aids effective response

Forest Grove Volunteer Fire Department (FGVFD) was called out for a small brush fire along Archie Meadow Road near Stack Lake on Aug. 3 around 10:30 a.m., and with assistance from 100 Mile Fire-Rescue (OMFR) and the Wildfire Management Branch (WMB), successfully battled a wildfire.

FGVFD chief Bob Felker says the location was soon determined to be Crown land, so technically it was a WMB case. However, he adds the fire departments don’t hesitate to respond before this is determined, especially in dry conditions.

The small wildfire was ignited by a lightning strike at the base of a couple of fir trees, and covered about a 20- by 30-foot area in dense brush.

Felker says the WMB sent a helicopter in to check the fire, but soon left the fire departments in charge.

“They looked and saw it was being looked after, so they just left it up to us. Because there were so many lightning strikes, they were short staffed.”

OMFR chief Darrell Blades says neighbouring fire departments often assist each other, especially on long weekends when available members are reduced.

In this case, his crew’s special equipment was also helpful.

“We went out with our brush apparatus to assist because access to the site was limited. They’re smaller, basically one-ton trucks, so we can get into tighter areas fire trucks can’t really go down.”

The FGVFD took crews in by pickup trucks and left its water tender at the nearest road, Blades explains, while the brush truck supplied a pump and ferried water from the tender to the fire.

“The Forest Grove crew did a great job. We just supplied the water and the pumping; they did the hard work.”

Says Felker: “We would have got it out without 100 Mile’s help, but it would have been a whole lot more work because we would have been dragging hoses through the bush for a half a mile.”

Blades adds the time for his fire crew to travel in and out of the remote bush location, help douse the fire and deal with hot spots to make sure a return trip would not be needed, took about four hours, plus cleanup time.

The overall fire response was well co-ordinated, he notes, with 10 members, two engines and two tenders from FGVFD working with two members and the brush truck from OMFR.

“It’s just our ability to work with each other and help each other out with equipment the others don’t currently have.”