Seven Sunshine Valley firefighters were first on the scene of a burning vehicle and camper on Highway 3 Saturday evening, near the Hope Slide.
A fire started in a vehicle carrying a camper up a hill on the Crowsnest Highway between Hope and Sunshine Valley, around 5:30 p.m. Aug. 11. Passerby saw the fire and alerted the Sunshine Valley Volunteer Department, who are the closest fire department to a stretch of the highway which has no cellular service.
“It just so happened that one of our firefighters was coming down the hill and (motorists) stopped him and said there was a fire. He radioed me, and I’d just got everybody paged out when somebody knocked on my door here,” said fire chief Chris Terry. “It was a very quick response, again. We were rolling before the third person even informed us about it.”
Telus cellular micro-cells have recently been installed on Highway 3 in Sunshine Valley, Manning Park and East Gate, however cellular services does not extend to all portions of the highway. This makes alerting fire departments along this stretch a trickier and more informal process.
“You’ve either got to turn around and report it back in Hope, or you’ve got to stop in at the resort here…and then they’ll page us out right from the resort,” Terry said, referring to the Holiday Trails RV Resort in Sunshine Valley
The fire started in the vehicle and spread to the trailer, Terry confirmed. Engulfed in flames, both vehicles were close to the trees on the side of the highway in an area near where Sunshine Valley crews fought another forest fire July 30.
Seven members of the Sunshine Valley department, a water tender and a fire engine brought the fire under control within 15 minutes. The RCMP also attended, as did the BC Wildfire Service, but the fire was out by the time the wildfire fighters arrived.
Terry called Saturday’s vehicle fire “another close call” as wildfires continue to engulf forests across B.C. Two large forest fires are burning in the region — a 2,000 hectare lightning-caused fire in the Skagit Valley Provincial Park and a 120 hectare fire on Mt. Hicks above Highway 7 between Agassiz and Hope.
“With more and more traffic using Highway 3 now, we’re probably going to see more and more of it,” Terry said. “Especially the way the fire seasons are going. We’re getting more fires, more intense fires.”
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