Campfire set at Prelude Lake disturbs cabin owners

Darren Campbell
Northern News Services

NNSL (Jul 29/98) - Somebody out there just isn't getting it.

With the Tibbitt Lake fire still burning and conditions still dry throughout the Yellowknife area, someone still decided to set a fire for cooking on an island on Prelude Lake on Thursday night.

Judy Langford, media co-ordinator for the firefighting effort, said someone had lit a fire to cook on the island. It was unattended when it was spotted by Annelies Pool and her husband, Bill Saunders, who live at the lake. After spotting the fire they called it in and fire crews were able to put it out.

Langford said they don't know who started the fire and although it was lit on an island and put out, she said that was not the point.

"Maybe they thought they were OK being on an island," said Langford. "But fire crews are pretty stretched. It's not a particularly good fire season anywhere in the West. Don't create more work for these guys."

Pool, who has lived out at Prelude Lake year-round for eight years, was not happy someone would think it appropriate to light a fire of any kind at this time, considering what is going on a few kilometres away.

"I'm quite amazed anyone would go out there and be careless enough to set a fire," she said.

Brad Heath, who lives with his wife at a cabin on Prelude Lake for six months of the year, was also critical the incident.

"I can't believe people wold be stupid enough to be out there starting a fire." said Heath.

Heath learned about the fire during an information meeting forestry officials held Thursday night at Prelude Lake Lodge. About 50 people showed up for the meeting to ask questions and get up to speed on the forest fire situation further along the Ingraham Trail.

Heath said some people at the meeting asked why a fire ban wasn't put on the area. While there is a ban on open fires in the city of Yellowknife and in territorial parks, there is nothing stopping campers elsewhere from making open fires to keep warm or to cook.

Paul Jones, manager of public affairs and communications for Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development, said the department is discouraging anyone from starting fires on the land.

"It's not a good idea to sit with your buddies near the bonfire with a few beers," Jones said.

So far, there has been no ban on open fires out in the bush if you need the fire to cook or keep warm. Only the city of Yellowknife and NWT parks have such a ban in place. Heath said regardless of whether there was a fire ban or not, he can't figure out why anyone needs to have started a fire at this time of year.

"You don't need warmth or light at this time of the year," he pointed out. Heath added that he is not sure what he would have done if his cabin was destroyed by a fire, particularly one that was man-made.

"For us, I don't know if we would have the heart to rebuild," said Heath.