TERRACE – A memorial cross to a young woman, who died when a vehicle went into the Skeena River two years ago, went up in flames when fire ignited near it and the huge tree beside it last week.
An initial attack fire crew of three from here was sent to put out the blaze, which was still burning when the crew got to the site, about 50 km west of Terrace near the Kasiks Lodge after 4 p.m. Aug. 10.
It took the firefighters a little more than three hours to extinguish the flames, said fire information officer Lindsay Carnes of the Northwest Fire Centre.
“We know it was human caused but beyond that in terms of a specific cause, it’s anybody’s guess,” she said, adding it also wasn’t known if the fire was intentionally or unintentionally set.
The cross and other items were placed there with a photo of Ashley Coveyduck, a Prince Rupert resident, who was in a vehicle that went off Hwy 16, plunging into the Skeena River June 12, 2009.
The other person in the car escaped with minor injuries, said police at the time of the accident.
Terrace Search and Rescue went out on the river numerous times with a sonar in attempts to find Coveyduck and the vehicle.
Part of the vehicle was eventually discovered but Coveyduck was never found.
The fire centre did more than usual in this case because a family was involved.
“We went a little bit beyond what we normally do in a really simple fire like this because of the emotional significance,” said Carnes.
A fire cause investigator was sent out to determine the specific cause, but wasn’t able to come up with conclusive evidence as to what ignited the blaze, she added.
“We do know it was unlikely to be a cigarette,” she said, adding that it was also determined that no accelerants were present.
Only about 20 per cent of the tree burned in the blaze and that was a rotting part in its base, said Carnes.
“The tree is still structurally sound so it will remain standing,” she said.
As for the memorial cross, it would be up to the family or others as to whether to put up a new one.