Fire at Sparwood Search and Rescue Base

Fire at Sparwood Search and Rescue Base

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December 19, 2016

            In an unfortunate case of irony right before the holidays, on the morning of Saturday, December 17th it was Sparwood Search and Rescue who were in need of emergency assistance when we received word at 9:40 AM that a fire had broken out at the SAR hall on Douglas Fir Road. By the time our members arrived, large amounts of smoke were pouring from the rear half of the building where a large amount of our emergency response equipment is stored.

            The Sparwood Fire Department was already enroute, and were on scene within minutes of the call coming in. Rapid and decisive action by Fire Department personnel, working in wind chill conditions of below -30 degrees, contained and extinguished the fire before it could burn through to the offices and training room in the front half of the building, and allowed us to move both of our SAR response trucks away from the building before they could be damaged.

               The building was unoccupied at the time so there were no injuries, but nearly all of the equipment housed in the rear of the building was destroyed or heavily damaged by the intense heat and smoke including all three of our side-by-side ATV's, four inflatable boats, a trailer and a multitude of first aid and rescue equipment and tools. In addition, the front half of the building and its contents suffered smoke damage throughout and the building has been left unusable for the foreseeable future. The exact cause of the fire has not been determined at this time, but it does not appear to be suspicious.

            Preliminary estimates put our losses at approximately $175,000 in vehicles and equipment destroyed or damaged, with the building itself suffering at least another $100,000 in damage. While much of the cost should be covered by insurance we do expect there will be additional expenses to keep us up and running, and as a charitable non-profit organization we will gratefully accept any donations. We had also been in the process of planning and fundraising for a number of general repairs and updates to the 1970's vintage building which were planned for later in the new year, but the timetable for this work will need to be moved up to line up with repairs to the fire damage. Donations can be made online by visiting our website at http://sparwood.vr-sar.org or we can be contacted by email at sparwoodsar@gmail.com or phone at (250) 425-5913.

            Fortunately both of our emergency response trucks, our incident command trailer and snowmobiles were undamaged so we are still able to respond to SAR incidents, and nearby SAR groups have offered to provide any operational support we need. We would like to thank them, along with the Sparwood Fire Department and our neighbors at Intermountain Specialties Ltd. for their support in keeping us operational while our organization recovers from this unfortunate event.

 

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