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May mayhem for Burns Lake fire department

Burns Lake fire department reports frequent calls
Members of the Burns Lake Fire and Rescue Department at a weekly practice session. The volunteer force responded to an extraordinary number of calls in mid-May. (David Gordon Koch)

The local fire department responded to a flurry of emergency calls in mid-May.

The Burns Lake Fire and Rescue Department received seven calls for service between May 10-14 alone, said fire chief Rob Krause.

To put that in perspective, the fire department responds to just eight structure fires in an average year.

And they normally receive about 10 emergency calls per month.

One was a false alarm, while the others included a medical call, a motor vehicle accident and four structure fires.

And two of those fires took place on May 14, when Krause paused from a weekly practice session with members of the volunteer corps at the Burns Lake Fire Hall to speak with the Lakes District News.

“It’s been a very interesting four days,” said Krause.

Among the fires, three were minor. But another blaze, which occurred on May 12, on Osatuik Road, south of Burns Lake, saw losses that Krause estimated to exceed $100,000. Those losses were uninsured, said Krause.

That blaze completely destroyed a shed and a fifth-wheel trailer, and also damaged a house. The cause remained unknown.

Among the minor fires, the causes included a careless cigarette smoker who improperly disposed of a butt in his trash, which caught ablaze on his deck.

Another of the fires was due to an an overheated meat smoker on someone’s deck, Krause said.

The third minor fire remained a mystery but it was “possibly spontaneous combustion from a piece of broken glass acting as a magnifier,” said Krause.

He said there was nothing connecting the various fires and no sign of foul play. “All of them are unrelated,” he said, adding that occupants were at home at all of them.

As for the motor vehicle accident, it was a single-vehicle rollover, and both people in the car were reportedly able to get out of the car on their own, he said. The accident occurred near the Palling reserve of Wet’suwet’en First Nation on May 13.

The medical call came from the ambulance service, which sometimes reaches out to the fire department for support if the former is short-staffed, or if help is needed for something like navigating steep staircases, said Krause.

These sudden periods of activity aren’t unusual. “We’ll go through little spurts where we’ll have a ridiculous number of calls in a short period,” he said.

Even with all of the action in mid-May, the fire department is probably still under its average for call volumes for this time of the year following a slow March, Krause said.

“This might just bring us up to average,” he said.