British Columbia

Squamish Valley wildfire holding steady but twice the size of original estimate

Even though the fire hasn't grown in size, new GPS measurements now estimate it to cover 203 hectares.

More accurate GPS measuring now puts the estimated size of the fire at 203 hectares

The fire in the Squamish Valley is believed to have started when a slash pile burn got out of control. (Felix McEachran)

The Magee Road wildfire in the Squamish Valley is now burning over 203 hectares, more than double the size of the 100 hectares estimated by the B.C. Wildfire Service Thursday.

But officials say it's important to note the the fire hasn't actually grown in size, rather they've been able to get a more accurate measure of it. 

"[The change] is not due to the fire growing overnight," said Coastal Fire information officer Marg Drysdale. "We were able to get crews to do a GPS tracking on the ground."

Drysdale says the forecast calling for cooler temperatures and less wind is good news for those battling the flames burning 15 kilometres northwest of Squamish.

"The light to moderate winds and the relative humidity is favourable, so crews are confident they can get some good work done," she said. 

The deployment of bodies and resources is now up to 46 firefighters, four helicopters and three excavators.

In addition, two structure protection units equipped with specialized sprinklers are on standby to safeguard any homes or building in jeopardy of catching fire. 

And two danger tree fallers are working with BC Hydro crews to help restore power to the area and clear trees for fire suppression.

Local residents help fight the Magee Road wildfire with shovels and rakes. (Felix McEachran)

Drysdale said a checkpoint has been set up at the 12 kilometre mark of the Squamish Valley Road and no unauthorized vehicles will be allowed through.

"We want people to be aware that unless you have a specific reason that has been approved, you are not getting past that checkpoint," she said

As of Thursday evening, the fire was being held at the snowline on a ridge separating Squamish Valley from Paradise Valley, according to an update from the District of Squamish. A local state of emergency remains in effect.

An estimated 30 people have been evacuated to Squamish and others remain on evacuation alert. 

Squamish Valley resident Toni Kerekes told CBC she had seen four homes that had burned down as she was evacuating five horses from her property.

Officials believe the fire was human caused, possibly by a slash pile burn that got out of control.

Drysdale says it's a good time to remind people of the provincewide open burn ban that came into effect April 16.

As well, she says, people should go to the website  to learn what they can do to fireproof their property. 


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