Powerline fire gets uncomfortably close

By: Laura Keil

On April 28th around 2pm Mt. Robson resident Dave Grant was working at his newest culinary project, The Mt. Robson Café at Mt. Robson, when there was a fluctuation in the power and the lights dimmed. By 2:30 pm they were in the dark. Grant says they heard through the grapevine there was a fire up the road across from the Cinnamon’s Robson Shadows Campground caused by some downed trees on the power lines.

He went to get a closer look at the fire just down the road and near his house.

“It looked small at first but in a matter of an hour the winds had picked up tremendously. Terry Cinnamon and I watched helplessly as they whipped the flames up the crowns of the trees and it soon became very clear that it was at a pivotal point.”

In the 20 minutes that he had been there, the fire had moved 200m east and showed signs of picking up.

“That’s when I realized that it was headed straight for my house! I rushed back grabbed a few things and loaded my three cats up into my truck. As I frantically heaved what I could into my vehicle, there were ashes raining down, the sky was filled with thick smoke which turned what I could see of the sun red,” he recounted.

At that moment the fire was about 1.5km from his house. Just as fast as it happened, the wind stopped howling and there was a gift from Mother Nature: rain. And lots of it. Grant says the temperature dropped about 10 degrees and the skies opened up and it poured all night. By the morning the fire had been subdued and the fire crew were on sight with a helicopter dousing the hot spots.

Grant said while the fire was under control by the next day, just in case their bags were packed by the door.
B.C. forest firefighters sent an incident commander and initial attack crew on site with a water tender. A unit crew and helicopter responded on Wednesday, said Jillian Kelsh, Wildfire Information Officer with the Ministry of Forests Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

Mary Anne Coules from BC Hydro says Wednesday’s windstorm caused a tree to be knocked into a primary line, which led to the 10-hectare wild fire. The power outage affected 68 customers as of 1:30 p.m. on April 28th.

“Our crews isolated the line in order for the fire department to manage the fire, and then reenergized the circuit.” She says crews were on site again to help with the clean-up efforts.

On April 4th, the only remnant of the fire was a strip of charred earth and rusty trees above Hwy 16. The burnt earth extended right to the highway in one spot – directly across the road from Robson Shadows Campground.

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