BX-Swan Lake fire chief Bill Wacey investigates a suspicious grass fire, which was sparked next to the BC Hydro substation early Monday, March 22, 2021. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

BX-Swan Lake fire chief Bill Wacey investigates a suspicious grass fire, which was sparked next to the BC Hydro substation early Monday, March 22, 2021. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Potentially explosive grass fire snuffed near North Okanagan substation

Camp fire deemed suspicious, fireworks found nearby

There would have been more than fireworks going off if crews hadn’t snuffed a suspicious fire early Monday morning.

BX-Swan Lake firefighters were called to a grass fire, which was rapidly spreading due to wind, next to the BC Hydro substation on Pottery Road shortly before 2 a.m. March 22.

Flames 10-to-12 feet tall scorched the dry grass approximately 500 feet alongside the substation and an adjacent building, fueled by 15-kilometre/hour winds.

“We had some pretty serious potential,” fire chief Bill Wacey said. “We stopped it three feet short of a lot of pallet piles.”

Coldstream fire crews were called to assist in dousing the blaze, which is under investigation. The blaze was initially investigated in the early morning by Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP as a camp fire.

No person was identified with the camp fire, but neighbours reported vehicles in the area.

“A couple suspicious cars were hanging around here around one in the morning and we ended up finding some fireworks alongside the road here which are part of the investigation along with some sparklers,” Wacey said.

RCMP were reportedly following up on a number of reports of fireworks being set off around the Vernon area Sunday evening and Monday morning.

Fireworks were also spotted near a dumpster fire Monday morning in the 4000 block of 32nd Street.

READ MORE: Vernon crews douse dumpster fire

Legally there are no fireworks allowed, and a special license is needed to set them off.

A neighbour on East Vernon Road saw the flames from his house and feared the worst.

“If it gets into the hydro station we’re really screwed. It basically starts its own inferno,” said the neighbour, who has long been concerned about the ongoing presence of youth and those littering in the area.

He also watched as the wind blew embers over neighbouring dry fields and hillsides.

This is the seventh grass fire BX-Swan Lake firefighters have attended in the last week or so. While this fire is deemed suspicious, the others have been due to those burning and allowing their fires to get away on them.

“We’re in pretty dry conditions right now,” warns Wacey. “Until we get some rains, we’re going to continue to be in very dry conditions.”

Damage was spared to the building adjacent to the fire, which is used by Venture Training for pallet rebuilds.

READ MORE: BX-Swan Lake Fire Rescue battles second grassfire


@VernonNews
jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

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