Illegal burning causes shed fire in Arrow Heights

Revelstoke firefighters put out blaze in shed fire started by illegal burning.

Firefighters battle a blaze in a shed fire at a home in Upper Arrow Heights on Wednesday.

Firefighters battle a blaze in a shed fire at a home in Upper Arrow Heights on Wednesday.

A man who inadvertently burned down his shed while engaged in illegal burning has been asked to write a letter to local media instead of facing a fine.

Revelstoke Fire Chief Rob Girard decided the May 30 incident, in which 21 firefighters were called out to battle the blaze in Upper Arrow Heights, would serve as a way of educating the public.

“We decided we’re going to do it as an education piece,” he said.  “That’s a fair thing because otherwise no one else can benefit from it.”

Revelstoke Fire & Rescue Services were called to a report of a fire on the 1500 block of Melnyk Road shortly before 5 p.m. on May 30.

“As our engines were approaching the area of Arrow Heights, the smoke plume was visible so we knew we had a substation structure fire,” said Girard.  “Fire crews quickly extinguished the fully involved fire, which was located in a shed, while protecting the exposures near the outbuilding.”

The shed sustained substantial structural damaged and crews also had to deal with hot spots on a wooded bank 30 metres from the structure. It took crews a little more than an hour to extinguish the fire.

Girard said that if the fire had occurred during the dry summer season and with the right wind, the blaze could have been much worse.

The fire was caused by illegal burning of yard material that was left unattended. The bylaw calls for a fine of up to $1,500 but Girard said he asked the culprit to write a letter to the media instead of paying the fine.

“It is unfortunate that the resident had to learn the hard way about the Burning Bylaw, but I hope this incident can serve as a warning and education to others that burning in our back yards is not only illegal, but dangerous,” he said.

Girard said the fire department spends about $2,000 advertising the illegal burning bylaw and responds to about 40 to 50 cases of illegal burning every year.

“Where I really take exception to burning is when they’re blatantly burning things they shouldn’t be,” said Girard, mention things like burning plywood with tiles still attached.