British Columbia

Washington Stickpin wildfire prompts B.C. evacuation alert over threat of 'ember showers'

An evacuation alert has been issued in the Grand Forks and Christina Lake area in B.C., as the Stickpin wildfire in Washington state threatens to shower the region in embers.

Alert issued for Grand Forks and Christina Lake over warning strong winds could cause showers of embers

An evacuation alert has been issued for areas of Christina Lake and Grand Forks following a warning strong wind could cause extreme fire behaviour. (B.C. Wildfire Service)

Public meetings were held in Grand Forks and Christina Lake, B.C., on Wednesday night to give residents the latest information regarding an evacuation alert issued earlier in the day.

The chair of the Kootenay Boundary regional district, Grace McGregor, said both meetings were jammed with concerned residents who heard from many officials regarding the progress of the Stickpin fire, which is burning out of control a few kilometres south of the border in Washington state.

On Wednesday afternoon an evacuation alert was issued for the two communities located in the southern Interior of B.C. In the news release, the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary said it was issuing the alert because of strong winds in the forecast over the coming days.

"These weather conditions may result in extreme fire behaviour," the statement said. "If these extreme fire behaviour conditions occur, firefighters may be unable to continue with suppression activities."

Officials say high winds could fan the flames and lead to "ember showers," which could start spot fires south of the Kettle River from the eastern side of Grand Forks to the Ponderosa and Cascade areas of Christina Lake.

In the statement, the regional district stressed an evacuation order has not been issued and no residents are to be evacuated at this time. Anyone who spots a fire started by embers is urged to call 911.

Spokesperson Deep Sidhu said officials are going door to door notifying residents about the alert.

Winds could clear smoke

However, the forecast winds could also be a silver lining. McGregor said they could help clear the smoke from the region, allowing air support to finally attack the fire.

Several water bombers and helicopters are in position to begin hitting the northern perimeter of the fire where Canadian firefighters have been working on the ground for the last several days.

The alert covers Electoral Area D south of the Kettle River and south of Grand Forks, including the industrial/Ruckle area of the City of Grand Forks.

A map of the evacuation alert area for Grand Forks, B.C. (rdkb.com)

The alert also covers the Ponderosa and Cascade areas of Electoral Area C.

A map of the evacuation alert area for Christina Lake, B.C. (rdkb.com)

Stickpin only 17% contained

Forty-eight B.C. Wildfire Service firefighters are currently working the northeast side of the Stickpin fire. In all, a total of 274 firefighters have been tasked to the entire fire.

The wildfire, burning south of the border, has grown considerably since it was discovered on August 11, and now covers an estimated 195 square kilometres.

The B.C. Wildfire Service says the Stickpin fire is only 17 per cent contained. Firefighting efforts have been hampered by strong southerly winds, low humidity and high temperatures.

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