A popular destination for hikers in the Shuswap was destroyed by fire.
Vernon resident Jason Reedyk spent Tuesday, Aug. 2, hiking the Eagle Pass Lookout trail east of Sicamous. Reedyk said he’d never seen the historic forestry lookout.
When he and the people he was with arrived at the lookout, they found the original foundation still standing but the wooden addition had been destroyed by fire. Reedyk said part of the structure was still on fire, and they were able to use a bucket at the site to gather some water to put it out.
“I wonder if it was too hot of a stove, or lightning that hit it?” asked Reedyk, uncertain of what caused the fire.
Reedyk said others were heading up to the lookout later in the day to spend the night, and it is a popular destination for hikers.
The historic lookout, originally built in 1922, was the subject of controversy after a new structure was built on its foundation by volunteers in 2016.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) said the work was done without authorization and, in 2021, it was decided the lookout would be, according to an email from Rec Sites and Trails BC, “restored by a heritage professional under contract… to the state it was in immediately previous to the unauthorized improvements in 2016.”
A December 2017 Heritage Conservation Impact Statement on the site noted numerous ways in which the rehabilitated (not restored) structure failed to reflect heritage values, along with structural concerns. Among them, the report noted a flat roof may cause “excessive pressure on the historic foundation, as additional weight of the snow load may be more than acceptable for the building’s base.” It also commented on the mortar used, and how “changing the mortar and building method of the stone foundation impacts the integrity of workmanship used to build the foundation from materials found on-location.”
In an August 2021 interview, Sicamous Coun. Gord Bushell, one of several local politicians who worked to preserve work done on the structure, said there was nothing wrong with the structure, although it sustained some damage after volunteers working on it were issued a stop-work order.
“The structure itself was not finished and one of the things they should have done was built some weather shutters to stop the snow pressure from pushing in on the window, because it’s completely snowed in, you can’t use it in the winter time,” said Bushell. “They wouldn’t let us finish it or even work on it, so it’s in need of repair.”
Reedyk said he was satisfied with the “gorgeous views” offered at the lookout, but upset by what remained of the structure.
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