British Columbia

Evacuation ordered after B.C. landslide

As many as 1,000 residents have been ordered evacuated from B.C.'s Lillooet River valley over fears of flooding after a two-kilometre-wide landslide in the area.
A washed-out bridge that crossed Meager Creek at a firefighting camp sits amid the landslide's debris field and trapped water flows into the Lillooet River, top, near Meager Creek Hot Springs north of Pemberton, B.C., on Friday. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

As many as 1,000 residents have been ordered evacuated from B.C.'s Lillooet River valley over fears of flooding after a two-kilometre-wide landslide in the area.

Another 4,000 people are still under evacuation alert.

Earlier, emergency officials in the area north of Whistler said they were trying to inform residents by all means possible, including going door-to-door in some parts of the affected area.

Officials said a buildup of melting glacier water in the region means more slides are possible.

Earlier Friday, anxiety about the fate of people trapped in the area turned to relief after several campers known to be in the Pemberton Valley area were accounted for.

Whistler RCMP Sgt. Shawn LeMay told CBC News that 13 campers who were trapped in the Meager Creek Hot Springs area by  slide at around 7 a.m. PT Friday had been taken out by helicopter.

They are "safe and sound with no injuries," and authorities are now arranging either temporary accommodation or transportation back to their homes. Some of those airlifted to safety were seasonal campers working at nearby open mines, LeMay added.

"Apparently, the Capricorn Mountain and the glacier gave way and created a massive … avalanche," he said. "And it slid onto the creek. That caused a huge blockade and a natural dam."

The flow of rock and soil debris, about 95 kilometres north of the village of Pemberton, caused the river's water to become blocked upstream of the slide on the southwest side, threatening nearby ranchers' fields. Downstream, to the northeast, water levels are dropping.

The rising waters led the Lil'Wat First Nation to issue an evacuation alert for some residents.

LeMay said geologists were on site trying to assess what will happen if the blockage gives way under the weight of the water and "we have a very quick and large body of water flow back into the Lillooet River."  

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Meager Creek is known for a series of hot-spring pools on its banks.

"The Japanese-style hot spring, in a natural outdoor setting, offers three natural rock baths, a self-composting toilet, and a change room," notes the region's page on The entry adds that the spring's clothing-optional day-use park is maintained by Recreation Sites and Trails BC.

In the past, the area has occasionally been closed to public access in the aftermath of landslides, including one that took out the Capricorn Creek Bridge last September.

With files from The Canadian Press