Someone stole nearly $ 2,000 worth of equipment firefighters were using to contain a wildfire near the town of Castlegar, British Columbia.
The theft was discovered on Sunday as firefighters were carrying out perimeter checks. They discovered that the emergency fire extinguishing equipment was missing and believe the theft occurred between 7 p.m. on July 10 and the morning of July 11.
An official from the Central Kootenay Regional District told the Surrey Now-Leader that the allegedly stolen equipment is worth around $ 2,000. The stolen items included more than 1,000 feet of hose intended for use in the forests and six sprinklers. The items had been deployed to protect a nearby house.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Castlegar are asking the public for assistance in identifying the thief.
Nora Hannon, the regional fire chief of the RDCK, said it was hard to believe anyone would steal firefighting equipment during the height of the wildfire season.
“It is extremely disappointing and difficult to imagine why anyone would steal this important, life-saving equipment,” she said. “We want to make sure everyone in the community is aware of the theft and ask anyone with any information to report to Castlegar RCMP.”
The district said the equipment was a crucial part of its strategy to protect homes from wildfires. Equipment replacement has also become more difficult, as the increase in fires has made extinguishing equipment in high demand.
The forest fire in Merry Creek began on July 1 and has since spread to 37 acres (15 ha). The fire did not destroy any structure.
Earlier this week, firefighters near Castlegar warned residents to stay away from the area as the Merry Creek fire continued to burn.
Firefighters at the scene are not actively fighting the wildfire, but patrolled its edges to determine if there are any particularly dangerous locations.
Firefighters said while firefighters can be seen near the edges of the blaze, residents should stay back as no one – including firefighters – is safe within the perimeter.
The immediate proximity of a forest fire is not only dangerous because of the fire, but also because the fire destroys stumps and root systems, which can cause trees to overturn.
Firefighters believe the Merry Creek fire was started by a human, but it is still under investigation.