Thanksgiving hit hard for a cattle rancher on the Anaham reserve west of Williams Lake.
Harvey Petal woke up Sunday to learn the 551 round bales of swamp hay piled in his stack yard had been destroyed by fire overnight.
With help from family and friends, Patel put up a fire guard, but later Sunday evening, the wind picked up, a spark jumped over the guard, and the fire spread, destroying some nearby grazing land. Land where the cows would have fended for themselves for a month or so before being fed the hay.
“We had another stackyard on the same field, so we were back there fighting the fire so the fire wouldn’t get to the other stackyard,” Petal says.
Petal’s family completed haying in August and the bales were going to be part of the feed for his 400-head of cattle through the winter.
Now they’ve lost around $27,000 worth of hay, and some of it was being stored there for other families.
“The fire has impacted a few families,” he says. “We don’t know the time of the fire, it was probably set sometime after midnight. Our neighbour rancher phoned us in the morning, once it was daylight, and told us about the fire. He was driving near there looking for one of his cows when he saw the fire. The stackyard is not near our home — it is about 15 kilometres away.”
Alexis Creek RCMP attended the scene on Sunday, however, the constable on duty was unavailable for comment by press time.
“I’m hoping someone will come forward with information to the RCMP,” Petal says, adding he suspects arson.
Anaham chief Joe Alphonse says he doesn’t know the cause of the fire, adding it could have been combustion, it could be arson.
“It was green hay when they baled it,” he says. “Half of the three km hay field also went up in smoke, when sparks jumped the fire guard. It was a pretty intense fire this late in the year.”