Kelowna fire crews extinguished two small grass fires Thursday morning near Munson Pond in Kelowna.
RCMP on scene confirmed the fires were both “suspicious” in nature and similar, but not the “same pattern”, to the fires which were set on Monday along a trail on Mt. Boucherie in West Kelowna. There were also one other spot fire in the same Munson Pond area from the other day.
The Kelowna Fire Department arrived on scene minutes after the 911 call and quickly doused both fires by manually spraying them.
“Fortunately a couple passerby noticed the fire and stomped it out before we got on scene. So we are checking on hot spots and putting a guard around it,” explained Kelowna fire captain Tim Hill, who was grateful for their help but also issued a warning.
“We want the public to be very careful with that stuff, we don’t want anyone to get hurt. They did a great job today and kept it from moving.”
Arina Vanderpol, who was out for a walk along the trails around Munson Pond, spotted some smoke and promptly made the first call to 911.
“I walk around most mornings, around the pond, usually three times” she said. “Second time around there was smoke, waist high.”
Vanderpol and two other people stomped around the edges to stop the spread of the first fire.
“We saw smoke as we came around the corner,” explained Frank Shalagan. “We saw the little lady phoning 911 and the flames were still small so I went and started stomping them out. It was spreading. We got the flames out, but it was still smouldering and smoking a bit.”
Neither Shalagan nor Vanderpol have any idea how it started.
“I only saw one biker pass me,” said Vanderpol.
“I wonder if it is someone doing it on purpose,” said Shalagan. “This is my new hometown now and I am concerned given what happened last year with all the forest fires in B.C. Anytime you see a fire, it is a sensitive subject.
“It burns me, so to speak, this is a beautiful area and anytime you see destruction, or potential destruction, you want to do something about it if you can.”
When fire crews arrived, a second fire was discovered about 50 feet away around the corner of the path.
“I feel unsettled right, as anyone would feel, not really scared but unsettled,” Vanderpol added. “This could happen.”
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Firefighters finished putting out the small fires and setting up a guard while RCMP members questioned those out for a walk in the park.
“The weather over the last few days helped, everything is still pretty green around here still right now. The weather is supposed to get hotter in the next little bit which will dry everything out,” added Hill.
“This is very frustrating. This can turn, with a little bit of wind and dryness, very ugly, very quick. We want people to be as cautious as possible with their cigarettes and other things. Put them out or dispose of them properly.”
An RCMP fire investigator is headed to the scene.
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