2 families hiking in Manning Park douse fire near campground

Two families of hikers are getting lots of online thanks and praise for their quick thinking and hard work in dousing a fire in Manning Park.

In a Facebook post, Rick Lefpazloh recounted discovering a significant amount of smoke as he, his wife Andra and their five- and seven-year old sons neared the shoreline of Flash Lake, one of a series of lakes in the park on Friday.

It was around noon and the family, who are experienced hikers, were on their first overnight backpacking trip toward Strike Lake.

Lefpazloh wrote that "something didn't sit right with me," because camping and fires aren't permitted in the area — so he left his family and headed toward the smoke.

Manning Park Resort/Facebook

Lefpazloh expected to find some backpackers, but what he found instead was a five square metre area of forest that was smouldering and on fire.

"I kinda just looked down at my water bottle and chuckled," he said in a phone interview.

Emergency messages were sent out via Lefpazloh's GPS communicator, and he returned to get his family.

For several hours. the five cleared brush and branches and hauled water from the nearby lake using a 20-litre dry sack to douse the flames.

Hundreds in nearby campground

The hundreds of people in a nearby campground were never far from the family's mind, Lefpazloh said.

Rick Lefpazloh/Facebook

"I'm more thinking, 'everyone is going to get out safe but this whole area could burn down,'" he said.

A short time later, Lefpazioh heard the sounds of kids talking and headed toward a trail to find another family.

Andrew and Paige Irwin and their five kids and another adult were coming back from their campsite,  the same one the Lefpazloh's were heading toward.

"I said to the dad, 'Do you want a really exciting end to your backpacking trip?'" said Lefpazloh.

The five adults and seven kids worked another hour hauling more water and clearing brush and trees until they were satisfied the fire was fully out.

A Manning Park crew and a B.C. Wildfire helicopter arrived a short time later.

"We did a bit more digging and spraying to confirm the fire had no hot spots under the roots," said park area manager, Andy Boulé. "When the B.C. wildfire crew got there, they confirmed as well." 

In his Facebook post, Lefpazloh said he needed a vacation after all the excitement, but despite that, he said there's no place he and his family enjoy camping and hiking more than Manning Park.

"You feel a really big obligation and sense of responsibility to it," he said.

Manning Park Resort is thanking the families for their efforts with a free premium cabin stay and boat rentals.