New B.C. wildfires spark evacuation orders, states of emergency
Homes near Kelowna, Port Hardy, Pemberton affected
Several new wildfires and a few old ones have caused local authorities to issue evacuation orders and states of emergency in several B.C. communities.
The small B.C. town of Port Hardy issued a local state of emergency Saturday as a wildfire burned just 1.5 kilometres from town.
The fire more than doubled in size since Friday, growing to about 16 hectares from six hectares.
The evacuation order issued Friday was expanded and now affects about 100 homes along Mayors Way and Upper Carnarvon down to Park Drive, where the fire has moved to between 300 and 750 metres behind those roads. The fire is being fought by ground crews and from the air, officials say.
Mayor Hank Bood says so far crews are managing to keep the fire at bay. The Port Hardy Civic Centre has been opened to accommodate fleeing residents. Residents are also being asked to restrict water use to only what is essential.
A second, smaller fire, caused by wind-borne embers from the first fire, has also broken out. It's about one hectare in size and is not immediately threatening any structures.
Homes also evacuated near Kelowna
Near Kelowna, 140 homes were ordered evacuated Friday in Joe Rich, with another 158 on evacuation alert.
The wildfire burning eight kilometres east of Kelowna, dubbed the Huckleberry fire by local officials, grew quickly Friday to cover 80 hectares but remained relatively stable overnight.
By mid-day Saturday, it had been 50-per-cent contained, officials said.
- 140 homes evacuated in Huckleberry fire east of Kelowna
- B.C. issues province-wide fire ban
- Vancouver Island fishing banned as drought hits Level 4
Boulder Creek wildfire leads to evacuations
An evacuation order was also issued midday Saturday for two pumice mines, one of which is no longer operational due to the Boulder Creek wildfire burning 23 kilometres northwest of Pemberton, B.C. A local state of emergency was also declared.
The 500 hectare lightning-caused fire is burning in steep terrain and heavy timber, and is completely uncontained, officials reported. It is still in a remote area and no residences or agricultural properties are affected by the evacuation order.
Wildfire near Ashcroft
Thirty-one firefighters were deployed to the blaze in the Venables Valley south of Ashcroft and west of Highway 1. One helicopter and three air tankers are working that fire.
The fire is completely uncontained, and the B.C. Wildfire Management Branch reported Saturday that attendees to a nearby music festival were moved out of the area as a precaution.
Province-wide fire ban
The province expanded campfire bans on Friday to cover most of the province, which has been hit by unseasonably early hot weather and tinder-dry conditions.
It also announced a Level 4 drought rating for southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, meaning water supplies are insufficient to meet the needs of communities and ecosystems.
The government suspended all fishing in streams and rivers in the area because of low river levels and high water temperatures.
The ministry said it was watching 75 other key angling streams across B.C., and that the fishing ban could be extended if conditions warrant.
"It is important that we are able to react quickly to protect vulnerable fish stocks," Forests Minister Steve Thomson said in a news release.
The Sea to Sky and Sunshine Coast areas, the Fraser Valley and Fraser Canyon are all at Level 3 of a four-stage drought rating, requiring residents to try to cut water use by another 20 per cent over regular reductions.
Metro Vancouver has responded to the record-breaking heat wave by moving the region to the second stage of a four-stage plan. Stage 2 includes lawn watering restrictions and bans on outdoor residential and commercial washing. It also requires the closure of public and commercial fountains and water features.
B.C. wildfires of note
- A previous version of this story said the restrictions would result in the closure of public drinking fountains. In fact, Metro Vancouver is requiring public and commercial water features and fountains — but not drinking fountains — be turned off.Jul 06, 2015 12:46 PM PT