A BC Supreme Court judge has ruled that lightning, not logging equipment, caused the 2010 Greer Creek wildfire near Vanderhoof.
The blaze cost $5.5 million, and torched 6,100 hectares of Crown land lasting several weeks. It was first spotted by a wildfire patrol plane on June 18th 2010.
The provincial government brought a claim against Canfor and their contractor Barlow Lake Logging, alleging a feller buncher started the fire. Canfor counterclaimed against the Province trying to recover losses from the fire, alleging the province failed to take action to suppress the fire early on allowing it to get out of control.
The Province claimed there was “strong circumstantial” evidence to suggest the fire was caused by logging operations in the cutblock, mainly the lack of a ‘fire watch’ which did not occur following shutdown of operations. A feller buncher operator is required to remain with their machine for 45 minutes while it cools down, and the operator waited just ten minutes in this case.
However Justice Greyell found that lightning was more a likely cause, as a “very vivid” lightning strike took place the evening prior during a heavy downpour.
As for the counterclaim, Justice Greyall ruled that the Province did all it could to knock down the fire after it was spotted.
“While there are undoubtable some actions, when viewed in hindsight, the Province may have done differently… I find the province and it’s firefighters acted reasonably given the circumstances they were presented” Greyall wrote
Greyall’s judgement took place on July 7th, and was made public on the 8th.