Family of Hikers Extinguish Fire in Manning Park Backcountry

Although it has been a summer with a much-reduced wildfire risk, a wildfire scare in Manning Park on August 16th was a stark reminder to stay fire smart. A fire was discovered near Flash Lake, but thanks to the dedicated actions of two families of hikers, the fire was extinguished.

Rick L. and his family were taking their first backpacking trip with their 5 and 7-year-old kids to Strike Lake, along the popular Lightning Lakes chain, when Rick saw some smoke near the shoreline of Flash Lake, in an area not permitted to camp or have a fire.

He messaged some co-workers via an InReach GPS satellite communicator, asking them to report the smoke, before going to investigate.

“Something didn’t sit right with me and I decided to hike around the lake while my family took a snack break,” Rick says in his Facebook message. Expecting to find some backpackers, he instead found a five square metre area that was smouldering and on fire.

He returned to his family and they all began to help put it out. Being an avid hiker in Manning Park, he says, “We would not sit by to watch the beginning of a forest fire in one of our favourite places to hike.”

After sending another emergency message, Rick cleared brush and trees to remove fuel, while his wife, Andra, hauled water from the lake about 5m away. “My two boys helped by poking at the extinguished areas and throwing small branches and undergrowth into the lake,” he says.

With a dry forest and a concern about an increase in the winds, the fire had the potential to expand quickly, so they kept at it, while keeping safety in mind.

After about 2 hours of working to extinguish the fire, another family of 3 adults and 5 children happened along. Andrew and Paige Irwin and their family were keen to assist in the efforts and jumped in.

“We continued to dump water on the fire with our Osprey Dry bags, about 10 litres at a time for about 3 hours and what I can best guess would have been over 1500 litres of water,” Rick says.

A Manning Park crew attended after hearing the call and found that the fire had been extinguished already and the hikers had moved on with their hike to Strike Lake.

A BC Wildfire crew also attended with a helicopter to put it out.

Park Area Manager, Andy Boulé, tells the perspective from the Manning Park crew who attended; “We mobilized a small team of 4 of us and grabbed portable water tanks and tools and started the hike in. We arrived just before the helicopter so must have just missed seeing you guys,”, referring to Rick’s family and Irwins.

“We did a bit more digging and spraying to confirm the fire had no hot spots under the roots. When the BC Wildfire crew got there, they confirmed as well.”

Although Boulé and the BC Wildfire team didn’t meet the hikers, after posting about the scare on the Manning Park Resort Facebook page, the full story came out from Rick. Speculating that they probably had very limited resources, Boulé says, “While there, we all were very impressed with the job you did!”

Boulé responded to the family, “It is obvious by your actions that you love the park too and I am proud to have such great stewards and friends of Manning out there helping! Thank you so much for your caring and effort!”

In Rick’s post, he commented how the whole family found it quite an adventure and they were glad that they were able to protect the park that they all love, but after all that hard work, they needed a vacation!

Manning Park Resort recognizes the incredible efforts made to protect the park from these two families and have offered both families another vacation to Manning Park Resort, with a night in one of the new premium cabins and their choice of boat rentals or ski lift tickets. Hopefully, this will be a vacation where they can relax!



Forest Fire Extinguished in Manning Park through Coordinated Community Effort

A forest fire that started in Manning Park on Sunday, August 5th, 2018 of the BC Day long weekend threatened to escalate quickly with the tinder dry conditions in the park, but a quick response time and incredible effort from the Manning Park community was able to quell the flames and get the fire under control by the time the BC Wildfire Service arrived.

A forest fire on a hill above Coldspring Campground on Highway #3 was reported by a camper at approximately 6:30pm. A small amount of smoke was reported, and in a short period of time, open flames were visible and moving quickly.

Manning Park Resort coordinated efforts to gather qualified staff and resources to head to the site of the fire, which was located on the north side of the highway, directly opposite Coldspring Campground. They were quickly joined by BC Park rangers stationed in the park and the East Gate Fire Department, which consists of trained, local residents.

Andy Boulé, Manning Park supervisor, said “it was amazing how fast it changed.” From the initial reports of smoke, they arrived to find 20 square metres of fire, that was “aggressively burning, and going up the trees,” says Boulé.

“Fortunately, it was easy to access the fire as there is a road leading directly to where the blaze started,” general manager, Vern Schram states, who was on the ground fighting the fire himself. “It was an amazing cooperative effort to get the resources on site quick enough to contain and fight the fire, which took upwards of four hours.”

BC Wildfire Service were alerted upon the initial report, and sent a 3500-gallon tanker truck of water to help facilitate fighting the fire, “for which we were very grateful for,” says Boulé. “Water is a precious resource when fighting fire, and we were shuttling back and forth to refill before it arrived.”

A BC Wildfire team arrived later and worked cooperatively with the Manning Park community to fight the fire until midnight, when it was deemed extinguished, with ongoing follow-up to ensure it didn’t reignite.

“We were so lucky there was no wind,” says Schram. “All the things that could have gone in our favour did, and for that we are incredibly grateful.”

Schram wishes to publicly thank the integral efforts of the Manning Park team, including park supervisor, Andy Boulé, and assistant supervisor, Toby Kelly, as well as the BC Park rangers, Kane Kopp and Art Goertzen, and notably, Roger Bean and the East Gate Fire Department. “We are grateful to our community for jumping into action with this emergency,” he says.

While this is a good news story of the community effort to prevent the escalation of this forest fire, Schram says it is a “near miss” and it highlights the essential need for caution during the hot, dry summer.
When asked whether it was human-caused, Schram says, “We are speculating from some recent garbage in the area of the fire, including an empty pack of cigarettes, that this was not caused by mother nature.”

Campers at Coldspring Campground had front row seats to see and hear the ongoing fire efforts, but there was no threat to campers or Manning Park Resort. Ongoing communication with the campers kept them in the loop, assured them they were not in danger, but if the situation changed then they would be alerted.