The Elephant Hill wildfire on the west bank of the Thompson River near Ashcroft on July 7. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Photo: Matti J. Lagerbom.

The Elephant Hill wildfire on the west bank of the Thompson River near Ashcroft on July 7. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Photo: Matti J. Lagerbom.

Investigation into cause of Elephant Hill wildfire ongoing

A BC Wildfire Service report on the cause of the fire is expected early in 2018.

The investigation into the cause of the Elephant Hill wildfire is still ongoing; but the BC Wildfire Service’s (BCWS) Jody Lucius, communications specialist for the Kamloops Fire Centre, says that they expect to complete their report early in 2018.

“BC Wildfire Service fire origin and cause personnel continue to work on their report regarding the cause of the Elephant Hill wildfire,” says Lucius. “Once the report is complete, it will be turned over to the RCMP to be included as part of their ongoing investigation.” She notes that the RCMP are the lead investigators on the file, and that the results of their investigation will determine what, if any, further action should be taken by the BCWS.

The fire started late in the evening of July 6, when it was reported as being 2.1 hectares in size. It was not declared 100 per cent under control until late September, by which time it had spread to 185,000 hectares and destroyed more than 200 residences and buildings and forced the evacuation of thousands of people.

The site of origin of the fire was identified at an early stage, and it was determined that the fire was human-caused. In late July the RCMP activated a dedicated tip line (1-855-685-8788) for anyone with information about the cause of the fire.

On August 11, investigators from the RCMP and BC Wildfire Service who were investigating the Elephant Hill wildfire said that they had eliminated train rail line activities as a possible cause of the wildfire. “[The RCMP and BCWS] can confirm that the fire was not caused by train traffic or rail maintenance-related activities on the rail lines,” said an official statement.

Lucius says that the BC Wildfire Service has done its “typical investigation”, and that the results will go into the report that will be presented to the RCMP. “They will incorporate that into their process, but the BCWS report is separate at this point.”

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