The Stanley Park causeway was closed to traffic during yesterday’s afternoon rush as park workers removed a red cedar damaged during an early morning fire.

The closure resulted in a major traffic jam along Georgia Street.

“The cause is unknown,” said Capt. Gabe Roder, a spokesman for the fire department. “But we’re ruling out a lightning strike.”

The fire, located about 25 metres off the west side of the causeway, roughly midway between the bridge and Lost Lagoon, was reported at about 1 a.m. when a passerby saw flames coming from the tree.

Roder said the blaze was difficult to get at and firefighters had to close the causeway for much of the night, reopening it at the start of yesterday’s morning rush hour.

Working with the parks department, firefighters had planned to send an arbourist up the tree with a “piercing nozzle,” Roder said, to soak the tree’s hollow core.

At noon yesterday, the tree was still smoldering while a single, unmanned hose continued to soak it.

Roder would not confirm speculation that the fire could have been started by a person living in the hollow tree.

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