A fire that broke out near Okanagan College’s Vernon campus April 22, 2021, is suspected as being human-caused. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

A fire that broke out near Okanagan College’s Vernon campus April 22, 2021, is suspected as being human-caused. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

Grassfire near Vernon college campus likely human-caused

Coldstream fire spokesperson admonished those who fling cigarette butts out of cars during dry weather

A grass fire that consumed a 100-metre stretch of roadside near the Vernon Okanagan College campus was likely human-caused, which doesn’t sit well with Coldstream responders during a dry start to the wildfire season.

Coldstream and Lavington fire crews doused the blaze along College Way near the Kick Willie Loop turnoff Thursday afternoon.

The fire started shortly after the BC Wildfire Service issued a press release warning of strong winds forecasted for Thursday and today, urging the public to take “extreme caution when conducting any outdoor burning” and consider postponing burns if possible.

Five new fires were recorded in the Kamloops wildfire region as of Friday, April 23, including three in the Penticton area.

Fiona Morgenthaler, public information officer with the Coldstream Fire Department, said it’s been a busy April for local firefighting crews.

She said investigators have a “high index of suspicion” that Thursday’s blaze on College Way was human-caused.

When Morgenthaler went out with the fire investigator Thursday night, signs of the likeliest cause of the fire were littered everywhere.

“The number of cigarette butts on the side of the road…” she said. “It’s astounding that people still do that, I just don’t get it.”

While it could not be confirmed with certainty that one of those butts had caused the fire, it’s likely many had been flung from a passing car window; there is no sidewalk or shoulder along the right-hand side of College Way where the fire broke out.

“If you’re using your smoking materials, don’t just toss them out of your car,” Morgenthaler said. “I don’t know how else we (get that across) to the public. It still baffles me.”

Morgenthaler thanked the multiple people who pulled over and attempted to stamp out the fire while crews were on route, while also reminding do-gooders to take their own safety into account before all else.

“We appreciate that, but just a reminder to never put yourself in harm’s way,” she said.

READ MORE: Grassfire burns across from Vernon college

READ MORE: 3 wildfires spark near Penticton in one day

Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

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