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Structure Fire in Cumberland’s Coal Creek Historic Park

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On Wednesday, September 7, 2022, a structure fire was extinguished in Cumberland’s Coal Creek Historic Park thanks to the combined effort of Cumberland Fire Rescue, the Courtenay Fire Department and the BC Wildfire Service. Under challenging conditions, the joint response successfully contained the fire with minimal spread into the adjacent Cumberland Community Forest Park.

Comox Valley RCMP are now completing an investigation into the cause of the fire. Meanwhile, Cumberland Fire Rescue continues to monitor the site for hot spots. Residents are requested to avoid the area due to the ongoing investigation and the hazards on site.

The structure fire occurred at the historic property known as the ‘Souther Farm’ and resulted in a destroyed barn, a handful of torched vehicles, a heavily damaged house, and several scorched trees. The house was unoccupied at the time of the fire.

The Souther Farm is located within Coal Creek Historic Park, and adjacent to the No. 1 Japanese Town Historic Site and immediately north of the Cumberland Community Forest Park.

The farm dwelling and structures were previously under private ownership, a unique legacy that the Village inherited at the time of park creation. The Village assumed control of the structures earlier this summer in cooperation with the previous owner’s family after the owner’s death in late 2021.

At the time of the blaze, the Village was working on long term site clean up plans. In the meantime, the Village had implemented an interim risk management plan which included site monitoring and surveillance, and other security measures to deter public access within the limits of Village resources.

As a result of the fire, the Village will now move forward to complete a hazard assessment to inform next steps. This work will also consider the complex site access issues recognizing the farm is surrounded by wetlands and mature forests.

Coal Creek Historic Park was acquired by the Village in 2002 and is the home of two significant historic sites – No. 1 Japanese Town and Chinatown – as well as the historic Wellington Colliery Trail and important wetland and forest ecosystems in the Perseverance Creek watershed. Find out more about Coal Creek Historic Park, including a link to the 2014 Park Master Plan.

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