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Cause of 2017’s Elephant Hill wildfire determined

Following an investigation, the BC Wildfire Service has determined the cause of the 2017 Elephant Hill wildfire.

This wildfire started on July 6, 2017, about 2.5 kilometres southeast of Ashcroft. It eventually burned 191,865 hectares in B.C.’s south-central Interior region, including parts of both the Kamloops Fire Centre and Cariboo Fire Centre.

The BC Wildfire Service’s fire origin and cause specialists investigated the Elephant Hill wildfire, and their report indicated that the most likely cause of the Elephant Hill wildfire was smoking or smoking materials. The “smoking materials” classification includes matches, cigars, pipe tobacco, cigarettes and/or marijuana.

Other potential causes of the fire were eliminated as part of the investigation, including:

  • lightning;
  • escaped campfire;
  • Category 2, Category 3 or Resource Management Open Fire activity;
  • arson/suspicious; juvenile fire setter/fire use; equipment use;
  • railroads;
  • vehicles; and
  • electrical transmission/utility line/pole.

The BC Wildfire Service’s fire origin and cause report was completed in fall 2017 and submitted as part of a larger RCMP investigation into the Elephant Hill wildfire. The RCMP recently concluded its investigation, so the BC Wildfire Service can now share its information regarding the cause of this wildfire.

The BC Wildfire Service and RCMP investigations did not uncover sufficient evidence to identify the person whose actions started the Elephant Hill wildfire. Therefore, it was not possible to lay charges or pursue cost recovery for damages caused by this fire. The BC Wildfire Service’s investigation into the Elephant Hill wildfire is now complete and no further action will be taken at this time.

To report a wildfire, unattended campfire or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.

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