A helicopter crashed in Oliver Thursday afternoon. (Oliver Fire Department)

A helicopter crashed in Oliver Thursday afternoon. (Oliver Fire Department)

Helicopter crash, tractor rollovers and wildfires push Oliver Fire Department to record year

The department saw an almost 50 per cent increase in calls from 2020

The Oliver Fire Department saw a record number of calls in 2021 with over 300 for the year.

The previous two years had already been the two busiest on record, with 205 calls in 2019 and 208 in 2020.

That increase was only partly due to the aggressive wildfire season in 2021 where Oliver firefighters were directly battling wildfires. Out of the 44 calls for grass fires and wildfires, the Nk’Mip Creek wildfire was responsible for 15 of those calls, whether for structure protection, assisting with back burns and patrolling the area.

READ MORE: Nk’Mip Creek Wildfire over 20,000 hectares and close to Mount Baldy

In comparison, the department responded to 39 fire calls total in 2020.

Beyond the grass and wildfires in 2021, the department responded to 16 structure fires, 15 vehicle fires, 13 minor fires and five chimney fires.

Outside of responding to fires, the department was also busy in 2021 with 44 motor vehicle incidents, 30 calls to assist BC Emergency Health Services, 16 calls for gas, CO2 or propane leaks, three calls to to provide aid for RCMP, three calls to respond to pedestrians struck and 40 responses to complaints about burning or sightings of smoke.

The department had four major rescues as well in 2021, with two instances of tractors rolling over, the rescue of a man and his dog after their vehicle went into the Okanagan River and the rescue of a woman and her dog from the town’s sewer yard.

The Oliver Fire Department was called out to its own training grounds after someone set fire to several cars and a motorhome on May 7.

This arson came on the heels of someone vandalizing several cars at the training grounds.

The incident comes after a suspicious fire engulfed the abandoned fruit stand on Highway 97 and Main Street also in May.

READ MORE: Vehicles torched at Oliver Fire Department training grounds

A helicopter crash in July was the cap to the unusual calls the department had received for the year.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


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