Jill and Patrick Spavor came upon the fire pit and camp site while walking their dogs. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Teen campers raise fire concerns near Murrayville

Neighbours feared teens camping in the woods could spark a fire

A Langley couple are worried that teens camping and starting fires in a ravine near their Murrayville home could spark a forest fire.

Jill and Patrick Spavor live near 224th Street on the edge between the suburban homes of Murrayville near Langley Memorial Hospital, and the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Jill recently noticed something was amiss during one of her walks down a trail that marks the right of way for the Township’s water pipe to Aldergrove.

“It was the smell of smoke,” she said.

The gravel path leads through a forested area covered with cottonwoods and cedar trees.

Near a bridge over a ravine, local dog walkers, hikers, and kids on bicycles have created paths that lead down into the ravine and wind through what is private, but undeveloped, forest property.

Two weeks ago, the smell of wood smoke led Jill to a camp set up by the stream bed by a group of teenagers.

They were camped there for several days, she said, and were burning wood most of the time.

“There was quite a fire pit there,” she said.

The Spavors, worried about a spark in the woods after the long and dry spring, called the Township Fire Department.

Patrick led some firefighters to the site, and both Spavors spoke with the teens a couple of times over the course of a few days.

The teens told Patrick it was a grad camp out, he said.

Jill warned them about the possibility of fire travelling underground and getting away from them.

“They were very polite, but not keen on leaving,” she said of the group.

The group eventually left the campsite, leaving behind a fire pit of blackened wood, a tent, and a considerable amount of food packaging and empty bottles, the Spavors said. They cleaned up most of the site and packed out the garbage.

The couple are worried about the possibility of other fires being set in the area by campers and getting out of control. On the east side of 224th Street there is dense bush, but the west side is single-family homes and it is just a few blocks to Langley Memorial Hospital.

Reports of incidents near the pipeline right of way have been handed over to the RCMP and Township bylaw officials, said deputy Township fire chief Russ Jenkins.

There have been reports of campfires in the area, and firefighters have gone out to check on the site, Jenkins said.

Speaking generally, Jenkins noted that even after recent rains, there are still sheltered areas and dry brush that could catch fire.

“There’s a reason we have a burning ban,” he noted.

Outside of defined periods in the spring and autumn, outdoor burning is completely banned in the Township, as in the rest of Metro Vancouver.

This year, the Township has already seen several mulch fires and small brush fires, including at the Langley Events Centre grounds and near McLeod Athletic Park.

Fires have been sparked by discarded cigarettes or homeless camps.

READ MORE: Grass fire near Langley Airport

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