Sadly, we discovered a fire smoldering underground at the party site on Ancient Grove Creek on Friday afternoon, July 3, 2020. The roots of an old cedar stump and a living hemlock tree were smoldering, we could see glowing embers along the roots at the base of the tree and smoke was rising out of crevices in the soil. Since the fire hadn’t been extinguished by a day of rain, it wasn’t going out on its own.
We called the Burnaby Fire Department non-emergency line and they responded promptly. We met the crew of three at Cariboo Road and guided them into the site. They called in a specialized team who used an ATV to bring in a mobile water pump and hose which they set up beside the pool below the old wooden culvert. They pumped between 300 – 500 L of water down to the party site in order to flood out the below ground fire. This fire would have smoldered underground until the forest dried a bit and then would have flared up again. The Burnaby Fire Chief called that evening to thank us for alerting them and to let us know that the fire crew had left the scene.
Dave and I returned the following day to remove the party debris — a dozen beer cans, 2 boxes of spent fireworks, junk food bags and containers, and a partly burnt grade 12 math assignment on compound interest — sadly no name was attached! It is horrifying and disappointing that people would set a fire in this remote part of the forest and leave without ensuring that it was put out. Burnaby parks staff have been notified.
This location on Ancient Grove Creek has been a party spot for years and is the most difficult place in the forest for emergency personnel to access — it is equidistant from both the Craig Ave and Cariboo Road trail entrances. We are lucky that it has been so wet this year as, in typical dry summers, this could have started a major fire in the forest and there wouldn’t have been enough water flow in Ancient Grove creek to fight it!