Skip to content

West Vancouver's Eagle Ridge wildfire 'human-caused'

Investigators found a camp with open-flame cooking materials

UPDATE: Oct. 20, 8 a.m.

West Vancouver's largest wildfire in recent memory was human-caused, firefighters say.

It's likely that an open flame, or embers related to camping and cooking activities were the cause of the Eagle Ridge fire, said Carrie Gadsby, spokesperson for the district. 

"An established camp existed in the area of origin," she said, as results of an investigation became available Thursday (Oct. 20) morning. "The burnt remnants of the camp contained evidence of open-flame cooking materials, with structures such as a cooking pit and table also found."

But Gadsby said there was no evidence to suggest that someone had been living at the camp. According to the investigation, the camp layout and organization suggest that it was used for recreational activities.

"It is probable that the camp user failed to extinguish an open-flame fire completely," she said. "The remaining embers and the recent drier-than-normal weather conditions led to the growth of the Eagle Ridge fire."

The wildfire, which burned through a two-hectare section of forest southwest of Eagle Lake, is "completely extinguished."

UPDATE: Oct. 17, 2 p.m.

The Eagle Ridge wildfire that broke out Friday (Oct. 14) morning in West Vancouver has been extinguished, according to local fire chiefs.

Crews from West Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services will continue to monitor and tour the site in the coming days out of extra caution, said district spokesperson Carrie Gadsby.

Trails in the area will also remain closed while the site is being monitored.

Staff with environmental expertise have conducted an inspection and determined there was minimal damage to the forest and mature trees, Gadsby said.

"We are grateful for the quick action of West Vancouver Fire and Rescue and the help and collaboration with BC Wildfire Services and North Shore Emergency Management," she added.

Both helicopters and ground crews fought the fire, starting on Friday and continuing through the weekend.

So far there's no word about a possible cause.

UPDATE: Oct. 15, 2:40 p.m.

Progress in fighting the Eagle Ridge fire is still on track from Saturday morning, fire chiefs say.

District of West Vancouver spokesperson Donna Powers said ground crews are continuing to make progress and expect to move into a "mopping up stage" on Sunday. At that point, a fire watch crew would remain to monitor the scene.

As ground crews have been able to get the fire contained, Powers said that the investigation as to what caused the fire should start on Saturday.

UPDATE: Oct. 15, 10:30 a.m.

The Eagle Ridge wildfire that broke out early Friday morning remains contained, firefighters say, with no growth overnight.

"Crews continue to fight the fire at ground level today and are making good progress," reads a statement from District of West Vancouver. "No helicopters are in use and the Whyte Lake shoreline remains open."

The district said that weather conditions remain favourable, with cool temperatures and no wind.

The Trans Canada Trail, trailheads from Northwoods Drive in upper Caulfeild, and Eagle Lake Road remain closed until further notice. 

UPDATE: Oct. 14, 4:00 p.m.

Helicopters that have been fighting a wildfire near Eagle Lake have been halted, with fire chiefs saying that at this point they're not expecting to need them going forward.

District of West Vancouver spokesperson Donna Powers said ground crews have laid hoses all around the site, but haven't been able to fight the fire on the ground with helicopters dumping thousands of gallons of water overhead. Ground crews have cut a 1-kilometre access route to the remote site, and will be using specialized equipment that takes water from a pumper truck to hoses near the blaze.

A total of 33 firefighters – 25 from the province and eight from the district – are now fighting the blaze on the ground, and will continue to work until nightfall.

At that point, a fire watch crew will monitor the scene for flare-ups overnight. If any occur, helicopters could be called in at first light on Saturday.

On Saturday morning, fire chiefs will meet to discuss an action plan. "We are planning for this to be a multi-day event," Powers said.

For now, firefighters say that the fight will be transitioning to the underground, pulling up material from the forest floor to completely put out the fire.

As of Friday evening, the two-hectare wildfire hadn't changed much in size. "We're moving forward, hopefully we don't have to take a step back," Powers said.

A map shows the location of the fire (in yellow), as well as closed areas nearby (in red). Closed trail heads are marked as well (coloured circles). The Whyte Lake shoreline has re-opened as of Saturday. | District of West Vancouver

UPDATE: Oct. 14, 11:30 a.m.

Multiple trail closures are in effect as a wildfire continues to rage in West Vancouver.

While it was described earlier as around the size of a hockey rink, the Eagle Ridge fire is said to be two hectares in size, closer to the expanse of four football fields.

After speaking to West Van Fire command chiefs on site, District of West Vancouver spokesperson Donna Powers said the wildfire is being controlled and isn't growing at the moment, but is expected to grow starting around noon and into the afternoon.

Heavily influenced by weather conditions, like wind, wildfires typically experience growth in the afternoon until around 5 p.m. and slow down after 6 p.m. and into the evening.

The District of West Vancouver is advising the public of the following closures:

  • The Trans Canada Trail,
  • Trailheads from Northwoods Drive, and
  • Eagle Lake Road.

Powers said there are staff stationed at the closed areas to redirect the public.

She also mentioned that while water restrictions are in effect for Metro Vancouver, water resources are secured to fight the Eagle Ridge fire. "15,000 gallons are on site," she said.

Six helicopters have been deployed to fight the blaze, according to BC Wildfire Service.

ORIGINAL: Oct. 14, 9 a.m.

Helicopters and ground crews are responding to a wildfire southwest of Eagle Lake.

On Friday (Oct. 14) morning, West Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services said it was responding alongside BC Wildfire Service.

District of West Vancouver spokesperson Donna Powers said three helicopters were being deployed to the scene, scooping water from nearby Whyte Lake.

While the size of the fire is difficult to estimate, Powers said that it was about the size of a hockey rink.

A water tanker is also being deployed, she said, under an agreement with British Pacific Properties.

Powers said it's a water reserve area so there is no public access, so no areas are expected to be evacuated, but that crews are still in the early stages of response.

"It's potentially serious," she said, adding that with the heightened drought conditions, there's more risk of the fire spreading.

With a file from Jane Seyd.

[email protected]