Categories: Home2News

West Kootenay man spends 24 hours fighting wildfire with plastic bag

Craig Luke has discovered a new firefighting tool — a zip-top plastic bag.

While maybe not the best piece of equipment, it was all Luke had on hand when he spotted a smouldering ground fire near Duncan Lake on July 25.

Luke had headed out that day on his motorcycle to look at some of the places a person could explore from main roads and logging roads while avoiding the backcountry during dry conditions.

“Out in the middle of nowhere,” Luke says he noticed a smouldering patch of ground. “The odds of someone else finding that fire were pretty slim.”

With no cell service and no one else around, he decided to take matters into his own hands. Luke dumped the contents out of the five-litre plastic food bag he had packed for the trip and headed for the lake.

It took about 12 minutes to get to the lake and back to the fire. After six trips, the fire seemed out, so Luke set up his hammock and took a well-deserved nap.

Several hours later, he woke to the smell of smoke.

The original spot was smoking again as were several other spots nearby.

Luke says the fire appeared to be following the root system of tree, which was now also smoking.

The tree was partially hollow and covered in carpenter ants, but still had some green foliage. Smoke was pouring out from holes as high as eight feet up in the tree. Luke says the back side of the tree looked like a fire pit — a hollow space filled with glowing coals.

At this point, Luke’s trips to the lake no longer took 12 minutes as he began to run there and back.

“I gave it everything I could and tried to turn everything into mud,” he said. “I was working up a pretty good sweat.”

He poured water into the base of the tree, and using his water bottle poured water into the holes as well.

After about 40 or 50 more trips, Luke thought the fire was finally under control again.

Since he had his gear and was planning on camping anyway, Luke set up camp near the fire and spent the night.

All night long, Luke set his alarm to go off every hour so he could check on the fire.

By 11 a.m. the next day, he felt confident enough to leave the site and head back towards cell service.

Luke had a GPS inreach device with him and says if things got out of control, he would have had the ability to call 911. The device also enabled him to give the exact GPS coordinates of the site to fire officials.

He’s happy that he was able to stop the fire before it joined the ranks of the many large fires burning throughout the province right now.

Luke says a big lesson from the experience is never to underestimate a ground fire.

“I was in the right place, at the right time and I had the time to do it,” Luke said.

“It was incredible to see. Scary, but incredible.”


Hissing hitchhiker: Snake discovered on Kaslo-based company’s bus

Wildfires of note burning across West Kootenay

Betsy Kline

Leave a Comment
Published by
Betsy Kline

Recent Posts

VIDEO: Surrey woman catches catalytic converter theft in progress

Surrey RCMP Cpl. Vanessa Munn said the theft happened Thursday in the 10800-block of 142…

19 mins ago

Moon Under Water doubles up as Vancouver Island breweries named among best in Canada

B.C. brewers score 40 wins in national competition

1 hour ago

1 in 6 mail-in ballots not returned in time to be counted

1.2 million mail-in ballots were requested for the federal election

1 hour ago

B.C. fuel price monitor a waste of money, finance critic says

Taxpayers billed $641K for ‘a copy of Gasbuddy’ website

1 hour ago

Nanaimo’s ‘cat control’ animal responsibility bylaw now official

Outdoor cats can’t be at large on other people’s properties, but enforcement will be complaint-based

1 hour ago

Vancouver Island’s Funkanometry dancers put their best feet forward

Central Island dance duo creates series of viral videos

2 hours ago