Arson in Nakusp: Rash of fires compounding illegal dumping problem

Someone is setting fires around Nakusp. On purpose.

Fire Chief Terry Warren said Monday multiple fires have been set downtown and in rural areas, and that more than one arsonist may be at work.

  • May. 4, 2011 5:00 a.m.
Nakusp Fire Chief Terry Warren inspects the site of a case of suspected arson and illegal dumping on Highway 6 near Nakusp.

Nakusp Fire Chief Terry Warren inspects the site of a case of suspected arson and illegal dumping on Highway 6 near Nakusp.

Someone is setting fires around Nakusp. On purpose.

Fire Chief Terry Warren said Monday multiple fires have been set downtown and in rural areas, and that more than one arsonist may be at work.

“On April 24, we got called to a wildfire. There was lots of garbage of all different sorts, locals had been dumping garbage there. We got called out for the fire,” Warren said.

Nakusp Volunteer Fire Department volunteers battled the blaze that evening and hotspots the next day.

Warren asked wildfire experts from the Ministry of Forests to help keep an eye on the site off Highway 6, not far from Nakusp Hot Springs.

More garbage was dumped at the site after the fire.

Viewed Monday, the site was a charred mess of garbage and wood.

“All of this is people cleaning up their property – it’s a helluva fire hazard,” Warren said.

The firefighters had to move in and out of the fire because of the intensity of the blaze.

“There were tons of toxic fumes from oils, tar paper, batteries,” he said.

Prior to the firefighters’ arrival, the blaze was working its wawy to the nearby rifle range, he said.

“See that dry bracken? It’s just like crumpled up newspaper, it’s dryer than heck, and that’s what the fire was moving through,” Warren said, pointing to tinder-dry foliage. “It’s just lucky one of our ex-volunteers spotted it and came and told us.”

As the summer approaches, concerns about wildfires will heighten, he said.

“We are in one of the higher spots for wildfires in the area,” he said, recalling the firestorms of 2003, when help was sought from firefighters from as far away as Abbotsford and Langley to quell fires sparked by lightening and dry heat.

On Friday, another illegal dumping spot a mile down the road was set on fire, and once again put out by volunteer firefighters.

Then, downtown, a bulletin board was lit on fire next to the general store, Warren said.

The call came in around 1:20 a.m. from an apartment dweller who lived behind Broadway between the alley and the lake, and was awakened by the smell of smoke.

With the historic wood frame buildings in Nakusp’s quaint downtown area, a fire could cause a great deal of property damage, Warren said, pointing to where what’s left of a community bulletin board lay crumpled in the alley.

“There’s a chance that if one of these old worn buildings catches on fire, we may lose the whole block,” he said.

Warren said it’s possible the arsonist or arsonists are unaware of the hazards they are posing to the community and surrounding areas.

“Maybe they just don’t know,” he said.

Unfortunately, rural dumping is a problem throughout the Kootenays. Area residents cleaning up their yards and unwilling to pay to use the dump or to wait for dump days may help themselves to back roads. Warren said he has observed backroads where garbage is just dumped in the middle of the road, blocking usage.

As for dumping, Warren is hoping to see a regional approach emerge.

“I think it’s something that should be brought forward as a Kootenay effort,” he said.

In the meantime, the fire chief would like to see area residents vigilant against the threats of arson and wildfire as well as illegal dumping.

“I think it’s important to get that message out there. If you see something suspicious or you see smoke, report it right away. Don’t just think it’s somebody setting a campfire,” he said.

The rash of arson activity is very unusual for Nakusp, Warren said.

“We’ve never had the dumping areas list – a month down the road, it could get away and we’d have a major forest fire coming at us,” he said.

 

Just Posted

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
B.C. teen who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

Dry Creek Park will be closed all week as city parks crews remove hazardous trees and prepare the site for a new disc golf course. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni’s second disc golf course on the way at Dry Creek Park

Dry Creek Park will be closed for development for a week beginning June 21

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

Bernadette Jordan addresses the media following a swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on January 14, 2019. Jordan says the government will provide $2 million to allow First Nations to continue to strengthen the marine safety system across Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
First Nations receive federal funds to purchase marine rescue boats

Quatsino, Heiltsuk, and Kitasoo First Nation’s among eight across Canada to receive funding

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

Most Read