What you need to know about B.C. wildfires for Aug. 7

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The latest on the wildfires:

  • The Rice Road wildfire near Princeton, B.C., forced the evacuation of a music festival Sunday evening. 
  • A new evacuation alert was issued for 85 properties in the Thompson-Nicola Regional district due to the Bush Creek East wildfire. The properties affected are located along Agate Bay Road about 70 kilometres northeast of Kamloops. 
  • The province has ended the state of emergency for the Stikine region in B.C.’s northwest after a month, rescinding all evacuation orders and alerts for the region. 
  • A smoky skies bulletin was issued Monday for Nelson, the central and southern Interior, and southeastern B.C. 
  • Evacuation orders remain in place across B.C., including at Adams Lake and Gun Lake, and north of Lytton.
  • As of 2 p.m. PT, there are currently 408 active fires in B.C., with 16 fires of note — fires that are highly visible or threatening public safety.
  • Learn more about how to find the full list of wildfires, highway closures and evacuation orders and alerts.

A wildfire burning near Princeton, B.C., forced the evacuation of a music festival attended by up to 1,000 people on Sunday evening, according to officials. 

The B.C. Wildfire Service wrote in a social media post that it’s responding to the Rice Road wildfire around 11 kilometres northwest of Princeton. 

It says the fire, which is around three hectares in size — roughly the area of six football fields — is visible from Princeton and surrounding areas but no structures are currently threatened. 

Mayor Spencer Coyne said the fire started Sunday evening, prompting RCMP and fire personnel to help evacuate the Under the Stars Music Festival.

“Because of the location of the festival itself, there is only one access in, it’s on a private property,” said Coyne. 

In a statement Monday afternoon, Princeton RCMP said the fire was caused by a group of four people riding ATVs near the village of Coalmont, about 20 kilometres northwest of Princeton. One of the ATVs caught on fire, igniting a wildfire that spread rapidly, the statement said. 

They said up to 1,000 festival attendees and the four ATV drivers have been accounted for and no injuries have been reported. 

Coyne earlier said as many as 500 people were believed to be attending the festival.

He said thousands of people were visiting Princeton over the long weekend because several events were taking place in and around the town.

“Luckily, most people came in their campers or already had other means of accommodation, so when they evacuated out, most of them have found a place to go,” he said. 

Coyne says firefighters have told him they are hopeful they can contain the fire, adding that the town saw some rain last night after the festival was evacuated. 

Amrit Saggu, who performs under the stage name Saint Soldier, told CBC News festival goers calmly evacuated the private property near Princeton due to the wildfire. (Zoom)

Musician Amrit Saggu, who goes by the stage name of Saint Soldier, was supposed to perform at the festival with his set scheduled to start at 9 p.m.

But he said he learned just before 8 p.m. that the festival would be evacuated. 

“Everybody kind of moved quickly and calmly out of the area,” said Saggu.

85 more properties in Interior on alert

Dozens more properties in the B.C. Interior have been placed on evacuation alert as the Bush Creek East wildfire near Adams Lake fills the air with thick smoke.

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD) says it expanded the evacuation alert to 85 addressed properties Monday, and also closed a boat launch to keep recreational boaters off the water to allow aircraft to work unimpeded as blazes burn on both sides of the lake.

The regional district says conservation officers and the RCMP are patrolling the lake to make sure boaters aren’t straying into the path of aircraft involved in fighting the fires.

The TNRD says it issued the alert Monday to prepare people in case they need to flee, warning that changing conditions could mean minimal notice if the alert is elevated to an order to evacuate.

The regional district placed 13 properties along a forest service road on evacuation order Sunday due to the Bush Creek blaze, days after a fire on the other side of the lake prompted an evacuation of dozens of properties serviced by a cable ferry.

State of emergency rescinded for Stikine

Meanwhile, on Monday the province ended the state of emergency for the sparsely population Stikine region in B.C.’s northwest, rescinding all evacuation orders and alerts in the region as “people and structures are no longer at risk of wildfire.” 

The state of emergency had been in place for a month, with evacuation orders for areas affected by the Little Blue River wildfire.

The Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness wrote in a Monday statement hazard ratings remain high or extreme in many areas, and people should continue to follow fire bans.

In northern B.C.,  many Canadian Armed Forces personnel dispatched to assist with wildfire fighting have now moved to from Vanderhoof to Houston to assist with numerous fires burning close to the town.

“There’s some optimism that with the cooler weather we can really get the most out of the the CAF assets here and they can get on a series of these fires and conduct the mop-up,” said Lt.-Col. Cole Petersen on Monday.

Anyone placed under an evacuation order should 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 with Emergency Support Services online, whether or not they access services at an evacuation centre.

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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