Residents in Sayward are concerned to hear that five wildfires near the village may have been intentionally set.
The Browning Creek wildfire in the Sayward Valley is classified as “under control” and just a few whisps of smoke were rising from it Thursday as firefighters on the ground continued to put out hot spots.
The Coastal Fire Centre was quick to confirm the fire was human-caused on Monday but the RCMP now says not only is it human-caused, but it may have been set on purpose.
Valerie Rajher lives within a few hundreds metres of the fire.
“Are you kidding me?” she said. “I’m not sure they realize how many lives they’re affecting. Kids, animals, everything around, this is unbelievable.”
In late May, the Newcastle Creek Fire started on the other side of the Sayward Valley and police now say there have been three other wildfires, all of them possibly intentionally set. They are the Memekay, White River and Big Tree Mainlines.
“I can’t really provide the specific details as to what made us believe they may be connected but we are still investigating the possibility that they are,” said BC RCMP Staff Sergeant Kris Clark.
“We did have some witness information that there were a couple of quadders in the area around the time this fire was observed and that they may have information that could advance the investigation.”
Ann Vansnick lives on Ryan’s Road, very close to the Browning Creek fire.
“Yes it does make me mad for someone to do that to jeopardize so many people’s lives and what they’ve earned and it’s just scary, our whole community could have been gone,” she said.
Fitzgerald lives so close to the Browning Creek fire, water from the helicopters was landing on his house as they went in to unload their buckets. He has a few about why someone might have started them.
“Mad? Yeah, somebody put our home in danger,” said Mike Fitzgerald. “People are unkind it seems and some people are thrill seekers and there’s lots of people who want the back roads gated up so it could be somebody with that agenda.”
The Sayward Fire Department was preparing to protect nearby homes Tuesday. On Thursday Chief Frank Morgan said the fires need to stop.
“It really keeps the whole department on edge knowing that at any time something’s going to pop up,” he said. “That’s what we don’t want anywhere near us is an urban interface fire. It’s a pretty scary thought, we’re just a small department.”
The RCMP says anyone with information or dashcam footage from the area Monday afternoon between Ryan’s Road and Sabre Road should give them a call at 250-331-6010.