British Columbia Sun

Some backcountry users in BC are putting trees on fire for fun


Key takeaways:

  • RCMP requests the public to grab people setting fires at a ski hill.
  • Kootenay candle fires regularly down whole trees and towers 20 meters into the air, becoming visual from afar.

People of backcountry in BC set fire on trees: 

In Trail, BC, the RCMP force is probing a rash of “Kootenay candles” at Red Mountain Resort nearby Rossland. 

The word “Kootenay candle” has come to direct the course of burning old, dead trees on fire in the middle of winter, often utilizing sap or sapwood to set the blaze.

Because dead, dry wood is mainly used, fires down whole trees and towers 20 meters into the air, and can be noticed from extensive distances. 

Most generally done in the backcountry, the act has evolved a small part of outdoor amusement culture in the Kootenay area of British Columbia.

Sgt. Mike Wicentowich, with the Trail RCMP, states he’s shocked by the number of Kootenay candles says his force is receiving. 

“These have been seen on a relatively frequent cause on Red Mountain … as well as in a lot of other places within the Kootenays,” he said.

“It sounds like it’s a somewhat regular occurrence.”

Also read: Music megastar David Foster gets Governor General’s Award

Trees are being set on fire by the residents for joy

Disrupting ecosystems

Wicentowich states wildlife depends on dead trees for habitat and putting them burning unnecessarily disrupts ecosystems. 

The Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue adds that placing blazes on dead trees in the winter can induce wildfires in the spring and summer. 

“If it gets sizzling enough and prolonged enough, fire can cross into the root system … Yes, it can do that,” stated Glen Gallamore, the fire rescue’s deputy chief. 

Gallamore states fire can travel underground and stay active during the winter months, re-emerging once again in the spring or summer when drier circumstances show themselves.

He also states he’s seen this kind of fire break out but that they’re unusual.

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