Tree fire sparks suspicion in Nanaimo

A tree fire was likely set deliberately, says Nanaimo Fire Rescue investigator.

A fire in an old cedar tree was snuffed out in north Nanaimo Tuesday.

The blaze was reported at about 2:30 p.m. by a man playing with his son on the beach below Invermere Road.

“It was in a big, old cedar snag,” said Dave Leigh, Nanaimo Fire Rescue fire prevention officer. “We believe it was a set fire.”

Leigh said the man who reported the fire heard some youths roughhousing in the woods above the beach in the area of the fire.

A few minutes later he heard the crackle of cedar burning and saw the fire.

No one witnessed the youths leaving the fire scene, which was in an area about 100 meters down an embankment and about 60 metres south of a set of beach-access stairs.

The tree was in a clearing that appeared to be used for camping or just hanging out, Leigh said.

Had the tree been closer to other vegetation, the fire could have spread into the forest canopy.

“It was confined to the tree,” Leigh said. “The area around it was quite clear. There wasn’t anything tight in to it. If it would have been windy or more confined with trees, then the canopy could have got going.”

Firefighters doused the fire and surrounding area and then called in a faller to down the snag, which had another tree growing out of it and posed a safety hazard.