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West Van helipad damaged in 'careless' fire

Investigators found cigarette butts and beer cups at the scene

West Vancouver Fire and Rescue officials are investigating after fire dealt heavy damage to a helipad above Horseshoe Bay Saturday night.

One of their members noticed smoke coming from the bluff above Sewell’s Marina while on his way to work Sunday morning and called it in, said assistant chief Jeremy Calder.

Crews had to hike up the bluff with chainsaws and portable water tanks on their backs. When they got there, they found about half of the helipad was charred, making it unsafe for use.

The helipad belongs to a telecommunications company, which uses it to access cell towers on top of the bluff. North Shore Rescue has also used it on occasion.

Based on the damage, it appeared to have been smouldering through the night, Calder said.

At the scene, investigators found remnants of folks partying there – cigarette butts and beer cups, Calder added.

“(Investigators) can't say whether it was suspicious or accidental, but I think we can safely say it was a human caused, as there was certainly no lightning and no other reason it would have caught fire, other than the evidence of people being there,” he said.

Calder said West Vancouver police are in the loop on the investigation as well.

Wildfire risk was low at the time of the blaze, which was fortunate, Calder said.

“If it hadn't been, that's a real danger up there, for sure,” he said. “We have a no-fire policy in West Vancouver beaches and parks. It’s an example of carelessness and damage that could have been a much more significant event if the fire rating had been higher. … We were fortunate that we got away with this one.”