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Booty's Cabin at Strawberry Pass nearly destroyed

Photo by Paolo Nicolello via Unsplash

It may have been someone careless with a candle on Christmas Eve.  When a small group of skiers passing Booty’s Cabin early on Christmas morning noticed flames through the window, the flames were already a foot high and spreading.

A Friends of the Rossland Range Society (FORRS) director says that, according to a firefighter friend, such a fire usually doubles in size every 60 seconds once it begins to spread. If the skiers who extinguished the fire had not come by when they did, or had not noticed the flames through the window, Booty’s cabin would now be a pile of ash surrounded by scorched trees.

The observant passers-by (who asked to remain anonymous) acted quickly and put the fire out with snow.  It had been burning in the  middle of the large table in the cabin. “There’s no damage to the cabin, but the table is charred,” they reported.  They thought it likely that a large candle had been left burning on the table, and was the cause of the fire.

This is an example of the reason FORRS asks people not to bring candles into the cabins: they’re a fire hazard.  As an alternative, LED lanterns are now inexpensive  and light to carry, and they provide good, bright illumination.

Booty’s cabin is not even finished yet, but it still represents a big investment of materials, donations and volunteer labour, all intended to benefit the community at large. Located right beside the Seven Summits Trail north of Booty Creek, not far past the gravel pit, Booty’s is particularly intended for people who can’t go very far, and for school groups using the area for outdoor education projects.  It’s the largest of the new cabins.

Each of the cabins in the Rossland Range Recreation Site has been built with volunteer labour, and is maintained by the volunteer efforts of many people who say they just love being out there and having a nice place to sit by a fire and eat lunch, and that they have fun doing something constructive.

Whose cabins are they?  According to another FORRS member, “They’re everyone’s cabins – and we should all take ownership and pitch in to keep them clean and safe and well-supplied with firewood. It feels great to do things like that.”   One of the skiers who helped put the fire out commented, “Back in the old days, there weren’t so many people out there using the old original cabins, and everyone had more of a feeling of ownership – so I think they were more careful with them.”

FORRS is a charitable organization and manages the Rossland Range Recreation Site, including the cabins, under a partnership agreement and management plan with the Ministry of Forests  -- Recreation Sites and Trails. Those documents can be accessed at this link. FORRS also arranged for the new parking lot, and pays to have it plowed, with the help of donations from grateful users. It's easy to donate to help keep the parking lot plowed -- just go to the donation page:  https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/friends-of-the-rossland-range/