Summer campers leaving Camp Thunderbird on Friday morning were met with delays and a smoldering surprise on their way out.
Plumes of smoke wafted out of a towering tree that was slowly consumed by intermittent flames, just outside the YMCA property on Glinz Lake Road.
“(They told us) there’s a tree on fire,” said camper Mikasa, who was leaving with her friend Anika and their mothers around 10:30 a.m. They had to walk to their car parked down the hill because the road had been blocked off to accommodate both Metchosin and Sooke fire rescue vehicles.
Metchosin Fire Chief Stephanie Dunbar said it was actually in Metchosin’s district but they asked Sooke to come help because of the potential danger.
“One tree could light them all on fire, and there’s a lack of water up here which becomes a huge issue for us,” she said.
“Basically the tree had been on fire for quite a while and it’s all the way up—It’s probably a good 80 to 120 feet up there. It started at the bottom and it’s a hollow dead tree so it’s just gone right up the inside.”
Camp director Luke Ferris said they found out about the fire at 9:30 a.m.
“One of our staff members was walking near the area and heard the crackling tree,” said Ferris, who added things got a bit chaotic because the camp finished up just a half hour later.
After fire crews put out the flames, local tree faller John Jacobsen was called in to cut down the burnt trunk. Fire Chief Steve Sorensen said the cause hasn’t been determined.
“I would imagine it’s kids playing with matches or smoking most likely, it’s a good place for them to hide out and do that,” he said.
“Nobody was hurt, so everything worked out fine that way.”