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Officials say 'squatter shack' found at site of Blackcomb fire

Crews got one-hectare fire under control last night

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Officials say a 'squatter shack' was found at the site of yesterday's Blackcomb fire that appears to have been human-caused.

Whistler Fire Rescue Services responded after smoke was seen billowing above Blackcomb Benchlands after 5 p.m. on Sunday, July 2. The BC Wildfire Service also lent support with two helicopters and an air tanker to help contain the blaze.

Crews had the estimated one-hectare fire under control by around 9 p.m.

The fire is thought to have been human-triggered.

"It appears that there was a squatter’s shack right there and that maybe some paper was being burned," said Whistler Fire Chief Geoff Playfair.

Whistler RCMP Sgt. Rob Knapton confirmed a man is in custody in connection with the fire.

"Once we have all that info in-hand, we’ll be making a decision as far as if charges are appropriate," he added.

As the weather heats up, more campers are springing up on the outskirts of Whistler, drawing concern from officials at the height of wildfire season.

"We're doing enforcement in different high-problem areas," said Tim Schumacher of the Conservation Officer Service in an interview last week.

"The municipality is focusing on inside the municipality, and the natural resource officers and conservation officers are enforcing the regulations just outside the municipality."

Recently, a local squatter was evicted from Crown land south of Whistler after camping there illegally for 18 years, according to a provincial spokesperson.

The eviction stemmed from an official complaint to the Ministry of Forests by the Resort Municipality of Whistler in June 2015, citing concerns with wildfires and other hazards.

Playfair said Sunday's fire was a prime "example of what can go wrong when you have a fire in the woods."

"Everybody that’s out enjoying our trails should be observant and call in when you see a problem."

No injuries or damage to property was reported.

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