News

Brush fires sparked along tracks

Maple Ridge firefighters got the fires under control quickly. - Monisha Martins/THE NEWS
Maple Ridge firefighters got the fires under control quickly.
— image credit: Monisha Martins/THE NEWS

Three brush fires were sparked Friday along train tracks in Maple Ridge, but were quickly extinguished before flames reached homes.

The fire department received several calls about the fires after drivers saw smoke billowing towards Lougheed Highway from the Canadian Pacific Rail tracks below around 2 p.m.

The first and largest fire ignited near 256th Street and the highway. It grew to 110 feet in length, extending 50 feet up a treed embankment before crews extinguished all the flames.

The second fire sparked near 280th Street and spread 100 feet in length and 10 feet wide.

“It got a little smaller as the fire progressed east,” said assistant fire chief Michael Van Dop.

The third fire near 287th Street was 48 feet long and 10 feet wide.

Crews from three fire halls were called in to fight the fires and took more than two hours to put out hot spots.

CP Rail confirmed the cause of the fires is still under investigation.

Van Dop said CP staff indicated there was no grinding or work being done along the tracks. The fire could have been sparked by a hot wheel or brake.

“There is no shortage of things on trains that can get hot and throw sparks and cause these sorts of problems,” Van Dop added.

Last year in July, two brush fires were started by sparks from a freight train chimney traveling through the same area.

Friday’s fires were put out before flames ignited tinder dry brush along a steep slope and spread to homes along the highway.

“We were fortunate that no structures or properties were threatened,” said Van Dop.

“That’s why I’m investigating to see if we can find out what happened and see if we can mitigate it in the future. These fires are pretty man-power demanding and it disrupts all kinds of stuff.”

Although temperatures are dropping, the wild fire risk in Maple Ridge remained at moderate as of Monday.

The Coastal Fire Centre lifted a campfire ban on Tuesday, but Van Dop said with continued warm temperatures, the fire department still wants people to be cautious about where they extinguish cigarettes, light campfires and barbecues.

 

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