Locals came to the aid of LeBeau Bros. Logging Ltd. when three of the company’s trucks went up in flames last Friday night.
The action from passersby was in lieu of service from Kamloops Fire Rescue or the BC Wildfire Service, both of which attended, but did not attack the flames.
At about 8 p.m., on May 10, multiple explosions were heard and thick black smoke was seen billowing into the sky from the company’s yard on Shuswap Road, near the Lafarge plant, east of the city limits.
LeBeau Bros. Logging Ltd. confirmed on its Facebook page that three trucks had caught fire.
“Thanks to everyone who came out to help tonight,” Tracy LeBeau wrote on the page, alongside photos of the fire. “Words can’t express our appreciation. We’ll let you guys know, when we do, what caused it. As of now, thee trucks gone. Good news, nobody injured.”
Kamloops Fire Rescue did not action the fire as it was outside its jurisdiction.
KFR Chief Mike Adams told KTW the department informed BC Wildfire Service of the fire, with the service monitoring the situation.
Kamloops RCMP also responded to the scene.
Adams said if a fire outside KFR’s boundary is threatening the city, firefighters would work in partnership with the agencies that do have jurisdiction in the area to offer help fighting the fire.
He noted the fact there was another fire in Kamloops — a mobile home blaze at Ord and Singh Street — about 20 minutes after the Lebeau LeBeau Bros. Logging call that required KFR’s attention.
“The resources that would have been applied to the one outside our jurisdiction would not have been available to suppress the fire that was on Ord,” Adams said.
KFR covers properties within the city limits, as well as on the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc reserve through an agreement with the City of Kamloops.
BC Wildfire Service fire information officer Hannah Swift confirmed a response officer attended the property to assess the situation.
She said the BCWS isn’t trained nor equipped to handle vehicle fires or other structures and only handles grassfires on Crown land.
“We don’t have the equipment and the safety precautions necessary to dealing with structures because of the chemicals found in them,” she said. “Our jurisdiction is Crown land.”
Swift said the gravel pit surrounding the trucks was considered large enough that there was no risk of the fire spreading beyond and into grasslands.
Craig LeBeau told KTW on Tuesday that he still doesn’t know what caused the fire, but noted he has hired an investigator to look into it.
The blaze started in one truck and spread to two others. Lebeau said he doesn’t believe the fire was maliciously set.
He expects the incident to cost the company about $150,000 for the vehicles that weren’t covered by insurance for fire damage.
According to LeBeau, a couple of people working for Habitat for Humanity in the area spotted the fire and moved other trucks in the yard out of harm’s way.
“They saw black smoke and thought something’s not right and just went back there and took care of things,” he said.
Neighbours and family members, including one person who had a water truck, responded to knock down the flames.
“Between us all, we managed to put it out and nobody got hurt putting it out,” Lebeau said.
Tracy Lebeau lauded those who helped.
“Just random people were coming in to help,” she said. “They did a great job. It could have got out of hand.”
She said no one was monitoring the yard when the fire began.
“Now we have a couple drivers out of work and we have wood to move,” she said.
LeBeau said they waited for firefighters to action the fire, but that didn’t happen.
“Forestry said it’s not their problem until it crosses into Crown land, so they wouldn’t do anything about it,” he said. “We should have just actioned it ourselves right off the bat. Probably would have saved ourselves a bunch of money.”