British Columbia

'Aggressive' wildfire triggers evacuations north of Squamish

Squamish RCMP says they are evacuating areas near a wildfire in the Squamish River Valley and adjoining areas. It has been burning out of control, according to police.

'Out-of-control' fire 15 km northwest of Brackendale threatens campground, 6 homes, hydro infrastructure

A fire near Squamish Valley Road, located north of the community of Squamish on the Sea to Sky Highway, is burning out of control and moving east. (Megan Macaulay)

UPDATE, April 16, 2020: Out-of-control wildfire forces local state of emergency near Squamish 

An "aggressive" wildfire fire in the Squamish Valley has threatened a campground, several homes and BC Hydro infrastructure about 15 kilometres northwest of the Squamish, B.C., community of Brackendale.

Late Wednesday, fire crews helped RCMP evacuate the campground and six homes near the fire, which began as a slash fire around 4:15 p.m. PT but grew out of control near Squamish Valley Road at Magee Road, about 90 kilometres north of Vancouver.

Coastal Fire Centre spokesperson Donna MacPherson said wind worsened the situation Wednesday.

"Crews have been reporting that it's an aggressive fire and it's being fanned by 15 km/h winds," she said.

WATCH | Aerial footage of the Squamish Valley wildfire:

Wildfire burns out of control near Squamish

2 years ago
Duration 1:15
A slash fire that burned out of control north of Squamish on Wednesday forced the evacuation of nearby homes. 1:15

The fire was just over half a square kilometre in size Wednesday night and had cut off access to the main road into Brackendale. Officers on Twitter warned that roadblocks have been put in place to prevent people from going up Squamish Valley Road.

RCMP have asked people to leave areas around Butterfly Lake, Levette Lake and Evans Lake because flames are spreading east in that direction.

Paradise Valley and the rest of Squamish Valley have been put on evacuation alert and some residents in the area are staying to help fight the fire. Residents of the Cheekye Reserve are also on evacuation notice.

The District of Squamish declared a local state of emergency late Wednesday due to the fire.

22 firefighters, 3 helicopters worked on blaze

RCMP Sgt. Sascha Banks said the Executive Suites Hotel & Resort in Squamish was taking in evacuees.

The COVID-19 pandemic complicates the situation, but the main priority is getting everyone out of the fire's way safely, she said.

The B.C. Wildfire Service had 22 firefighters and three helicopters working on the blaze before dusk.

A crew of more than a dozen people were staying overnight, MacPherson said.

Greg Hinds with Cheekye Ranch said he was prepared to help nearby homeowners move their animals out of harm's way.

"If people need some room for their animals we can go get them, we got a couple of trailers ready to go retrieve them," said Hinds.

MacPherson said the cause of the fire is under investigation and is suspected to be human-caused.

Province-wide burning bans in effect Thursday

The fire occurred a day before a province-wide prohibition on most open burning on public and private land comes into effect April 16 at noon.

The B.C. Wildfire Service has said the ban is "to reduce the likelihood of human-caused wildfires" and "reduce the impact of wildfire smoke on air quality and public health during the COVID-19 pandemic."

Fire officials explained the burn prohibitions are in line with the B.C. Centre for Disease Control's recommendation to cut down on air pollution in the province.

With files from The Canadian Press


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