Spuzzum resident wants fire protection after neighbouring cabin burns down

Yale crews spent three hours on Sunday, May 31 fighting the fire in the Fraser Canyon community

A fire consumed a cabin in Spuzzum Sunday, May 31. Jessica Poirier photo

After Yale firefighters spent Sunday night fighting a structure fire on Front Street in Spuzzum, neighbouring resident Jessica Poirier wants the area to get fire protection.

Eight of Yale’s volunteer firefighters arrived, in two fire engines and one water tender, at the cabin on Front Street around 10:45 p.m. At this point the home was burnt to the point of collapsing in on itself said fire chief Bruce Marshall. Neighbours had already been out watering down areas near the fire for about an hour, including a neighbour’s fence that had caught fire.

“There was a little bit of spread to the surrounding brush and fence line,” Marshall said. “So we attacked that first just so it didn’t spread any further and then just simply concentrated on cooling down the debris pile. There was nothing to save by the time we got there.”

Firefighters cleared the scene around 2 a.m. Monday, June 1.

Poirier said she first realized the fire had started around 9:45 p.m. Sunday, May 31, which is when she put in a call for the RCMP to help dispatch a fire service. She said all surrounding fire departments – Boston Bar, Hope and Yale – initially declined to attend the scene. Yale ended up attending on request from the RCMP.

Firefighters from the Haig fire base also came out after being contacted by Spuzzum First Nation, Poirier said, as trees were starting to catch fire.

“It’s still out of our response area… our equipment belongs to the community of Yale and the district so we try not have to go out of our response area if we can,” Marshall said. “But because of the RCMP request, we chose to go there.”

Normally, the Yale department has a response time of 12 to 15 minutes within Yale. Marshall said if Spuzzum was within their fire protection area, it would take approximately 30 to 35 minutes to respond.

The area is within the Fraser Valley Regional District’s Area B, but it is not within any fire protection zone. This is problematic in a number of ways Poirier said. First, the delayed response time due to RCMP and fire departments figuring out who will attend, then the fire department waiting for a task number from the government. As well, the resources to fight fires in the area do not exist. Instead of having hydrants in the community, a water tanker needs to shuttle between Spuzzum First Nation and the community.

“Honestly, I believe that most of our neighbours would be willing to pay the extra taxes to get that up here,” Poirier said of the community of around 100 people. “Our insurance is a lot higher because we don’t have fire protection. So for those of us that are actually proud owners of our houses, we’d like to keep them.”

Area B director Dennis Adamson said getting fire protection is very much a possibility. Spuzzum First Nation has signed an agreement with the FVRD to be covered by the Yale Fire Department, making this process easier now for the rest of Spuzzum. What needs to happen next, Adamson said, is to establish a service area and ensure property owners are on board to pay the taxes involved.

If it weren’t for the restrictions on gatherings and meetings caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the area may already have had fire protection Adamson said.

While Marshall can’t rule out whether anyone was hurt in the blaze, as far as he knows there was no indication of anyone being inside at the time of the fire. Poirier said fire investigators are coming to inspect the site.

Both Poirier and Adamson are thankful for the deluge of rain that fell on the community over the weekend. “We’re very fortunate it’s been raining so the fire didn’t spread,” Adamson said. “If it was the summertime and they had to wait for that number, Spuzzum might be burning.”



emelie.peacock@hopestandard.com

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Firefighters from Yale spent the night of Sunday, May 31, cooling down the remains of a cabin in the community of Spuzzum. Jessica Poirier photo

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