By Laura Keil

When local hiking enthusiasts Barb Janzen and Ian Woolsey decided to go for a quick hike up to Little Lost Lake on Sat. Oct. 22nd they had no idea they’d soon be fighting a forest fire.

It wasn’t until they reached the north side of the lake’s perimeter trail that they saw the fire.

“At first I thought I was seeing mist on the lakeshore as we headed around the north (sunny side) of the lake,” Janzen said. “I was shocked to see flames as we approached.”

Janzen said the fire had burned a roughly 10-meter diameter patch between the trail and the edge of the lake. 

“There was quite a bit of smoke and little areas of flames that were erupting around the edges. Two beer cans and remnants of a cigarette package were clearly visible about three metres from the lakeshore.”

She said the area is very bushy with large firs and assorted deciduous trees. The slope is exceedingly dry with many layers of duff.

“This is not a spot where people usually have a fire.”

She had one bar of cell service, so she contacted neighbours in Tete Jaune who carried up buckets, shovels and tools to fight the fire. She also phoned the BC Wildfire Service reporting number but figured it would take them a while to get there from Valemount.

Meanwhile Janzen, Woolsey and Tete Jaune residents Peter and Leona Amman and Terry Myram bucketed water and dug down, pulling back the duff to try to extinguish all smoke and flames. Janzen said they pretty much achieved that by the time the fire base crew arrived.

It was very lucky they did the hike that morning.

“I have no doubt that the fire would have slowly worked its way up the hill if we hadn’t discovered it,” Janzen said.

As for the cause of the fire, at the epicentre of the burn were 2 beer cans and the remains of a cigarette package. 

“Draw your own conclusions,” Janzen said.