Ground fire quelled by fast responding Mudge volunteers

Sounder News

Tuesday, June 7 2016

Scott Flemming, President of the Mudge Island Citizens Society (MICS), included the Sounder in a report to Mudge Islanders that followed a ground fire on May 25.

In his report, Flemming outlined the events of the fire, from when it was first discovered just after noon, to when MICS equipment was able to leave the scene at 3:30 p.m. having been relieved by crews from the BC Forest Service.

Flemming initially received a phone call from Colin Hendriks about a ground fire on Salal Drive at the south end of Mudge. 

A strange colour was in the air, possibly smoke. Closer inspection found the fire advancing up the bank to a neighbouring property.

Mudge islanders fighting a ground fire on May 25 near Salal Drive. The Mudge Island Citizens Society is responsible for acquiring and maintaining emergency equipment for Mudge Island. Photo courtesy Mudge Island Citizens Society

Flemming started the fan-out call out procedure that MICS has been working on for some time while heading for the island’s emergency equipment. 

“After my first few calls I left the remaining calling and notification to those who had been called after me.

“Chad Giesbrecht and I met at the fire trucks and proceeded to take the two fire trucks to the scene with Alex Hoffman close behind with the tanker truck. 

“Once on scene it was quickly established that we had a major event on our hands and actions were taken to try and get ahead of this quickly growing fire.”

Three water lines were quickly deployed and a flank attack on the fire was initiated. At this time the fire had reached the top of the bank and was igniting limbs 20 - 25 feet high on the trees at the top of the bank with a house in imminent danger another 30 feet back.

Flemming said, “A large number of people had now shown up on site asking what could be done to help - the tanker had arrived and a group was set to transferring water from the tanker to a storage pool by the yellow fire truck. 

“Chad was able to coordinate with the BC Forest Service by bringing them up to speed on our situation and making arrangements to meet an Initial Attack Crew that would be flown in by helicopter.”

Once the first three water lines had worked to stop the advance of the fire, an order was put out to move portable pumps to the beach and continue the attack from below as well as above. 

Helpers were sent to bring more equipment to the scene and soon the volunteers had three pumps set up on the beach fighting the fire from below. 

Some of the portable pumps on the beach were brought by responding neighbours and others were brought from the MICS property.

With the fire contained, groups of volunteers were now able to get in with rakes, shovels and pulaskies to dig out smouldering debris and look for hot spots. 

In total, over 26 people showed up and helped in fighting the fire.

Flemming said, “The turnout from the island was exceptional and the group worked well together in a coordinated attack against this fire.”

Over 3000 gallons of water was deployed from the fire trucks and tankers and another 4,000 to 5,000 gallons was delivered from the ocean by the portable pumps.

When the Forest Service crew arrived, the fire was out and MICS was in mop-up mode with hot spots still being dug out. 

Forest Service crews remained on scene until 7:15 p.m. to monitor the site looking for hot spots and to begin to investigate the cause of the fire.

Flemming said if not for the quick thinking of Colin and Anna and the quick response by volunteers and MICS firefighting equipment, “I have no doubt in my mind that we would have lost one cabin and very likely many more and would have had a full-blown forest fire on Mudge Island.

“There are too many names to list and thank for their various efforts, but let it be known that the efforts put forward by this community were exceptional and it makes me proud to see the effort that was displayed.

“All of our resources were tested and tasked and we worked very well as a group to prevent a much worse situation or outcome. 

“I would also like to thank the BC Forest Service for coming to our aid and relieving our volunteers for the final mop-up. It is my understanding that some form of an investigation into the fire is being conducted by the BC Forest Service.

“Good job Mudge Island - you all deserve a pat on the back.”