UPDATE: Burnaby Mountain wildfire sparked near tree fort

'We’re lucky, is what we were,' said assistant fire Chief Dave Younger about the fire not spreading into the tops of the trees.

A helicopter was called in to help battle a wildfire on the north side of Burnaby Mountain Friday, but local crews managed to put it out before the wildland firefighters on board had to be deployed, according to the Burnaby Fire Department.

The fire department got a call at 12:20 p.m. on Friday for a brush and grass fire below the site of the old Shell gas station, north of University Drive, according to assistant fire Chief Dave Younger.

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He said it took crews some time to find the blaze, which was burning under a tree fort built deep in the bush and about 40 feet up in a tree.

“It was burning all around it,” he said. “It burnt the rope ladder access to the structure. It burnt all the base of that tree and a huge area around it. It spread out from there.”

By about 3 p.m., the fire was between 500 and 600 feet across and growing, according to Younger, and a helicopter and two trucks with wildland firefighting crews were dispatched from Chilliwack.

Burnaby Mountain wildfire
A fire burns on the forest floor on the north side of Burnaby Mountain Friday. - Contributed

By the time the helicopter landed near an SFU soccer field, though, Younger said his crews, which had been rappelling down to the fire from above and climbing up to it from below, had extinguished the blaze with heavy-stream hoses they had run down the mountain from a hydrant above.

The city parks department sent in a crew later in the evening after the fire was out to search the tree fort, according to Younger.

“They determined that the tree was still sound, so they climbed it with spurs because the rope ladder was burned off, and they looked inside, but there was no body or any other unforeseen thing,” he said.

Fire crews were back Saturday to clean up hose, and fire investigators will visit the site Monday, according to Younger.

“This was more of a ground fire,” he said. “It never made it into the canopy, so we had no candling. That’s why it stayed small. It just ran across the ground, burning in the roots of the trees and along the vegetation. We’re lucky, is what we were.”

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