Wildfire forces evacuation alerts and orders for parts of Castlegar
Fire is 8 km southwest of the city and believed to be human caused
Some headway has been made on Friday to control the wildfire near the city of Castlegar, B.C., which has resulted in evacuation alerts and orders for a number of streets on the edge of town and the closure of a major highway.
The fire was 15 hectares in size on Friday morning and has yet to be contained, according to the B.C. Wildfire Service. But the agency's wildfire information officer Kelsey Winter says higher humidity overnight has stopped the fire from growing further.
"The hope today is to lay down a complete perimeter with guard around the fire, so that even if the temperature picks up, the fire has nowhere to run," Winter said Friday.
Twenty-five firefighters, two helicopters and two air tankers are tackling the fire, which, at the moment, is believed to be human caused.
"You could basically see it anywhere in Castlegar," said Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff, a city councillor in the community of around 8,000 people.
"It's been a lot of worry, a lot of smoke and a lot of watching the helicopters battle it."
Thirty-one properties just outside of Castlegar are under a evacuation order issued by the Central Kootenay Regional District, the full list of which can be found here.
People living in the following streets in the Kinnaird neighbourhood in the southwest of the West Kootenay city are under an evacuation alert, which was an order for several hours Thursday afternoon before being downgraded:
- Meadowbrook Drive
- Tassone Place
- Highland Drive
- The Castleview Care Centre
- Grosvenor Place
- Forest Road
- 14th Avenue
Highway 3 is also closed in Ootischenia, east of Castlegar, with an alternative route available on Highway 3B.
Evacuees — including 50 residents of a seniors home — are being temporarily housed at Castlegar's Community Complex.
Heaton-Sherstobitoff's father, 94, is among the elderly who had to leave their home amid the fire — and are now sleeping on beds on the community complex's floor.
"He is not feeling well because of the heat and that, and moving him kind of upsets his system, so he did not have a good night," she said.
'People are quite anxious'
Castlegar resident Leanna Zwick, who lives across the Columbia River from the fire, said it had been growing since late Thursday morning.
"We noticed the plume of smoke and of course in this type of weather, that's never a good sign and it spreads so fast," she said.
The city's emergency operations centre says the fire is on the north side of Highway 3, but there is also a small spot fire on the south side.
It's one of many fires that have developed across B.C. in the past two days after lightning and high winds followed record-high temperatures earlier this week.
"People are quite anxious," said Zwick, who added that many people living outside the evacuation zones are preparing to leave for the weekend out of an abundance of caution.
"I think especially after seeing what happened in Lytton in such a rapid way. The conditions are just too dry to have a great comfort so we can all sleep tonight."
With files from David French