Jason Reedyk made the two-hour hike up Eagle Pass Mountain on Tuesday, expecting a breathtaking view from the alpine hut at the top — but was shocked to find the century-old structure had been destroyed by fire.
Reedyk says it was his first time hiking to the Eagle Pass Lookout cabin, which is located in the Shuswap about 25 kilometers west of Revelstoke, BC. Judging from photos of the cabin that other visitors had recently shared on social media, he believes the building burned down. Monday evening.
He says he is not sure of the cause of the fire, but believes it may have been lightning.
“There [are] just the rock walls and some charred remains,” said Reedyk, who is from Vernon, BC, on CBC’s Dawn south. “It burned completely, essentially down to its foundation.”
The cabin was originally built in 1922 as a CP Rail fire lookout station and has long been a popular hiking destination.
In 2016, a group of volunteers began restoring the building after its roof collapsed in the 1960s, spending $40,000 and hundreds of hours on the project.
In an email to CBC News, Recreation Sites and Trails BC says it has not yet decided whether to build a new lookout.
The province, which considers the cabin an unauthorized structure, placed a stop-work order on the site in 2017 after volunteers completed reconstruction and fined them $10,000 for proceeding with the project without any formal permission from the Ministry of Forestry.
The BC government later held a series of discussions with the District of Sicamous, alpine clubs, local businesses and hikers in 2020 to figure out how best to proceed.
According to a report released by the non-profit Shuswap Trail Association in 2021, Recreation Sites and Trails BC said it could not approve the voluntary rebuilt structure because it did not meet the province’s heritage building standards — but it fell short of making a final decision on , whether the building is to be rebuilt or retained.
Sicamous Coun. Gord Bushell, who also served as general manager of the Eagle Valley Snowmobile Club in 2020, joined the discussion on how to treat the cabin.
At the time, he suggested his company could manage the building, but he says the province just acknowledged his proposal and he hasn’t heard back since.
“You don’t have to tell me how slow the government is moving because I’m a councillor,” Bushell said.
Bushell says he has visited the Eagle Pass Lookout cabin 15 times and was “pretty devastated” to learn it had been destroyed.
He added that if the province decides to build a new structure at the lookout, it could cost taxpayers more than the volunteers spent.
Recreation Sites and Trails BC says the Eagle Pass Lookout site has been closed since the fire, but surrounding trails remain open to hikers.
Dawn south5:35A Vernon man shares his shock at what he saw when he came to the Eagle Pass Lookout earlier this week.