Most of resort town Sicamous, B.C., under evacuation order or alert due to wildfire
Some 1,000 people told to leave community in Southern Interior
Most of the resort town of Sicamous, B.C., in the Southern Interior, was put under an evacuation order or told to prepare to leave on Tuesday after a highway crash sparked another wildfire.
Sicamous Mayor Terry Rysz said the fire, which is burning near Two Mile Creek, started Tuesday afternoon after a van crashed into a hydroelectric pole with a transformer on it.
"When the transformer hit the ground, it exploded. And of course, it just started the fire and the fire started to go uphill," Rysz said.
The fire is one of hundreds burning across B.C., sustained by hot, dry and windy conditions. Hundreds of people have been forced from their homes and thousands more are on evacuation alert. The province declared a state of emergency Tuesday.
The evacuation order for Sicamous, which has a population of around 2,500, affects around 300 properties and 1,000 people, said Tracy Hughes with the Columbia Shuswap Regional District.
It covers all residences south of Sherlock Road, southeast of Cook Avenue, Gillis Avenue, Larch Avenue, east of the Sicamous Narrows and Mara Lake and north of Sicamous Creek.
"Everyone in that area is on evacuation order and must leave the area immediately," said Hughes.
"Most of the remainder of Sicamous is on evacuation alert and should be preparing to leave on short notice."
Firefighters from the B.C. Wildfire Service, the District of Sicamous, Malakwa and Swansea Point are in the area. Highway 97A has been closed south of Sicamous near Mara, but the Trans-Canada Highway remains open.
"There's helicopters and water bombers and we're throwing everything we can at the fire," said Rysz.
Sicamous is about halfway between Calgary and Vancouver, nestled between Mara Lake and Shuswap Lake.
Rysz says that geography is proving helpful.
"It's been a huge asset that the lake is right there so they can dump into the lake and then attack the fire with helicopters and water because we have water that's accessible within, you know, 500 metres of the fire," Rysz said.
The wind has also aided efforts, he says, as it's currently blowing from the north and pushing the fire south, away from the town. But a shift in the wind could leave Sicamous vulnerable.
"We are trying our damndest in order to get this under control."
Anyone placed under an evacuation order must leave the area immediately.
Evacuation centres have been set up throughout the province to assist anyone evacuating from a community under threat from a wildfire. To find the centre closest to you, visit the Emergency Management B.C. website.
Evacuees are encouraged to register online with Emergency Support Services, whether or not they access services at an evacuation centre.
With files from Christine Coulter, Meera Bains