A manhunt continues in B.C.'s Kootenays, where police believe they have cornered a man thought to be armed with multiple guns, who allegedly shot at RCMP officers earlier in the day.

Homes are being evacuated in what police are calling "an area of containment" west of the village of Slocan, at the south end of Slocan Lake.

Police cleared the streets of the village earlier Thursday afternoon, after a man allegedly shot at police, then fled into the woods.

RCMP manhunt in Slocan, B.C.

RCMP set up roadblocks and began a search for a suspect, who allegedly shot at officers in the area of Gravel Pit Road and West Slocan Road, on Thursday just after noon. (CBC)

"Due to the nature of the offence and the risk to public safety, police are asking the residents within the village of Slocan to remain indoors until further notice," RCMP Const. Kris Clark said in a written release just after 5 p.m. PT.

At 9 p.m. PT, the message was much the same.

"Considering that an armed suspect remains at large, we must continue to ask residents to remain inside for their own safety," Clark said in a written statement.

Triggered by dispute

Police say the incident began just after noon when RCMP officers with the Slocan/New Denver detachment were called about a dispute between two people. While the officers were on scene on Slocan West Road near Gravel Pit Road, a man allegedly shot at the officers with a long rifle.

No one was injured, but the man fled into the surrounding forest. He is believed to be armed with multiple firearms, according to police.

Southeast RCMP first tweeted the alert out on behalf of the Slocan detachment just after 3:30 p.m,, only saying at the time that there was a serious police incident ongoing.

Police are asking anyone with information about the location of the suspect to call 911, but not to otherwise broadcast the information.

"As this is an unfolding event with an alleged armed suspect, we are asking that the movements and locations of responding officers not be divulged through social media. To do so may jeopardize police and public safety," Clark said.

Lockdown at school, daycare

A local school and daycare were initially locked down, but were later evacuated.

Lockdown, evacuation during manhunt at Slocan, B.C.

Police converged west of the village of Slocan to search for the suspect, who was seeing fleeing into the woods. (CBC)

Jeff Jones, superintendent of the area's school district, told CBC News that the district got a call from police at around 3 p.m. PT saying a man had fired shots from a high-powered rifle in the area. 

As of 4:30 p.m. PT, one school was locked down, with about 75 students, six staff, and some parents staying put, Jones said.

Witnesses in Slocan City told CBC News they saw several police cruisers racing into the town, which is about an hour north of Nelson, B.C.

Told to get off the street

Bob Strong, who was in Slocan City at the time police began evacuating it, said the situation is tense.

"I was out on the street when an RCMP officer came up to me and said, 'We're both targets right now, get off the street,'" he told CBC News.

He said he was told by police somebody had fired several shots and was still at large.

RCMP officer maintaining roadblock at Slocan, B.C.

As night fell Thursday, police maintained a lockdown at the village of Slocan, B.C, and asked area residents to continue to stay inside. On Friday, the manhunt continued. (CBC)

Antonia Crossley, who runs the Harold Street Café, told CBC News she was stuck in town, indoors.

"I'm stuck in my restaurant," she said. "Police told me, 'Stay in the building, there's a guy across the river who shot at police.'"

The post office, only restaurant and only store are closed, she said: "The whole town is dead."

Crossley said all the children were taken from the local elementary school to the firehall on buses, where parents showed ID to pick them up.

Police officers were co-ordinating traffic to allow people to pick up their children and get home from work. Police also closed Highway 6 through the valley.

"We continue to assess the risk to public safety and commit to update the public should the situation change or if we have further direction in the morning," Clark said.

With files from the CBC's Bob Keating and Rafferty Baker