Officials are investigating a suspicious wildfire that broke out Friday night near a popular BX hiking area.
The BX Swan Lake Fire Rescue Department was called to the entrance of B.X. Creek Trail Park off Star Road shortly before 9:30 p.m. and discovered two fires, one at the entrance to the trail, another about 400-to-500 yards up the trail bank.
“It was about a half-hectare in size,” said fire chief Bill Wacey Saturday morning. “It was already a rank two and three fire when I got there. It was getting into the crowns of the big pine trees.”
Corrine Zacharuk and her husband, Wayne, live nearby. They smelled the smoke and praised the efforts of the BX Swan Lake department.
“They came from both ends of Star Road at the bottom and at the top, they got there right away and got on the fire,” said Corrine Zacharuk.
Crews battled a strong steady wind out of the east while trying to put out the fire and keep it from spreading.
“Considering the torrential rain we got Tuesday, the fire was still pretty vigorous,” said Wacey.
Investigators were on-site Saturday morning to examine the areas of origin to determine the nature of the fire, though a natural cause of the blaze is not likely.
“I’m not finding a whole lot,” said Wacey. “The fire was spread out between the two spots.
No structures, vehicles, residence or injuries were reported, though one man in a wheelchair was believed to be evacuated from his nearby home for precaution.
Wacey said the fire came within 20-to-30 feet of a nature retreat which features tepees and a Mongolian yurt (or tent).
The BX Swan Lake department received mutual aid from Vernon Fire Rescue Services to help battle the blaze. Crews were on-scene throughout the evening.
Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP were also called in to assist.
RCMP investigators are asking for public assistance and would like to speak to any witness or anyone who may have information regarding the fire.
If you have any information, call the Vernon RCMP at 250-545-7171 or via Crime Stoppers, anonymously, at 1-800-222-8477.