Nervous Peachlanders expressed relief and gratitude Monday when quick action by forestry crews stopped a small fire from threatening any homes.
A bucketing helicopter, an air tanker, and a dozen ground crews were able to contain the fire, which at times produced heavy black smoke, in a steep canyon south of Pincushion Mountain.
“We looked up the hill, saw all the smoke, and thought, 'Holy Christmas, here we go again',” Beach Avenue resident Dot Moberg said, referring to a 2012 fire that forced the evacuation of many of the town's 5,200 residents. “But the crews got on this fire fast.”
The fire was reported about 10:30 a.m in a heavily-treed canyon about 400 yards from the end of Gladstone Road, south of the Ponderosa Golf Course.
“It would have been a hard area to get into, but the firefighters did a fantastic job,” said Richard Smith, who lives on nearby Somerset Avenue. “I think they were also helped by the lack of wind, because there's a lot of fuel in there that could have really started burning if there'd been any breeze at all.”
Despite the amount of smoke it produced, the fire never exceeded one-tenth of a hectare in size. No homes were threatened and no evacuation alerts or orders were issued.
Members of the town's volunteer fire department were stationed at the end of Gladstone Road in case flames spread closer toward residential areas.
By 3:30 p.m., the air tanker had been called off the fire, but ground crews remained. “They'll be continuing an aggressive mop-up operation to make sure the fire stays contained within the guard,” provincial fire information officer Melissa Klassen said.