A fire that occurred above Foothill Road Monday is believed to have been human caused.
Salmon Arm firefighters from Hall 3, along with a tender from Hall 2, responded to the blaze just after 3 p.m. on Monday, May 31. Fire Chief Brad Shirley said the fire was initially reported by a Salmon Arm firefighter who noticed smoke coming from the scene.
Upon arrival, firefighters found what Shirley described as a “ground fire” in an area a couple hundred feet off of 17th Avenue SE. Firefighters hiked in with hoses and began knocking down the blaze.
There were no other people on the scene at the time, though there were indications of an encampment. Neighbours also said people had been camped at the location at some point.
“Certainly, the indications were that it was a human-caused fire,” said Shirley, adding police were called in to investigate.
Firefighters were quick to douse the flames and made sure the fire was thoroughly extinguished. That quick response, Shirley noted, helped keep flames from spreading into nearby trees.
“Certainly the type of fire we don’t like to see this time of year given the hot, dry conditions,” said Shirley.
On March 4, Salmon Arm firefighters put out a blaze at an encampment above the railway tracks by the Foreshore Trail. Afterwards, Shirley said the department had dealt with several similar situations over the past couple of weeks: “Small miscellaneous fires have been started, nobody around, we assume they’re homeless people trying to keep warm.”
Shirley explained vulnerable populations living outdoors are a concern, and the fire department has been working with the city’s bylaw officer to at least provide some basic information on fire prevention. Also in March, the fire department distributed fire extinguishers and smoke alarms to people living rough.
“It’s something that obviously just might save their life if they’re in a tent or some type of home-built structure,” said Shirley.