British Columbia

Wildfire prompts evacuations near Monte Lake, B.C.

A wildfire near Monte Lake, B.C., is threatening homes and has forced an evacuation order.

The fire, 100 hectares and growing, is threatening structures

A fire near Monte Lake, B.C. on July 26, 2017. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

A wildfire near Monte Lake, B.C., is threatening homes and has forced an evacuation order.

The fire, which was estimated at 100 hectares in size as of 7:30 p.m. PT, is about 1.5 kilometres northeast of the Monte Lake community, near Martin Mountain. 

"We are seeing some pretty aggressive fire behaviour," said Rachel Witt, fire information officer with the B.C. Wildfire Service.

An evacuation order has been issued for approximately 60 homes to the northeast of Monte Lake. People are asked to register at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops if they require assistance. 

Witt confirmed the fire is close to multiple structures, but it's unknown how many properties have suffered damage. 

Multiple air tankers and 31 firefighters with the B.C. Wildfire Service are on scene. 

Tactical evacuations

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District has declared a state of local emergency for the Grasslands Electoral Area in response, and tactical evacuations were underway prior to the order. 

Highway 97 is also closed in both directions near Paxton Valley Road due to the fire, but Witt says the fire is currently blowing northeast, away from the road. 

The wildfire comes hours after officials warned of an increased risk of new and spreading fires because of worsening weather conditions.

A fire burns near Monte Lake, B.C. on July 26, 2017. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

'It's come down right to the road'

The fire has effectively closed the highway between Kamloops and Vernon, forcing detours for many drivers in the B.C. Interior once again this month. 

"Lots of burning. You could see the fire moving quickly from the road. You can't see past the hill, but you can see where it started," said Curinne Casimir, who was returning from a day trip from Kamloops when she was forced to stop outside Monte Lake. 

Casimir was evacuated from her home near Anaham, west of Williams Lake, earlier this month, and has been staying in Kamloops since.

"We want to go home. It's been 16 days for us."

Barb Hodder of Ashcroft was stopped outside Monte Lake as well.

"We went up to Clinton this morning and saw the fire up there, and came back this way and we see another fire starting. Oh my God, it's everywhere in B.C.," Hodder said.

"We were supposed to camp [this month]. That was the plan. We reserved everything, and now we can't."  

With files from Tina Lovgreen

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