B.C. wildfire update Friday: Entire city of Kimberley under evacuation alert

Kootenays clouded with concern as Kimberley, B.C. on evacuation alert
WATCH: A tense day for thousands of people in Kimberley. The entire city is on evacuation alert as the Meachen Creek wildfire is threatening the community. As Paul Haysom reports, residents are getting ready to leave.

The entire city of Kimberley has been put on evacuation alert as a growing wildfire moves in from the west.

The notice was issued to residents of the city late Thursday to warn them of the growing Meachen Creek wildfire.

Residents of the community and surrounding areas of around 7,500 people, located in the southeastern part of B.C., northwest of Cranbrook, must be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

The fire, now 5,685 hectares in size, is about 10 kilometres southwest of St. Mary Lake.

The fire has grown very quickly over the past few days.

READ MORE: B.C. wildfires map 2018: Current location of wildfires around the province

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This same fire also prompted an evacuation order for 65 properties in the St. Mary Lake area on Thursday night.

The Regional District of East Kootenay said there is an immediate danger to those living in the area because of the Meachen Creek Wildfire and people in the evacuation zone should leave immediately.

READ MORE: Evacuation order issued for 65 properties west of Kimberley due to wildfire

Properties affected include those on the west boundary of the City of Kimberley to the Redding Creek/St. Mary’s River convergence, including St. Mary’s Lake Road and Lakefront Road.

Interior Health is also voluntarily evacuating seniors in its care facilities in Kimberley as a precaution due to the evacuation alert.

The relocation relates to residents of the Kimberley Special Care Home and assisted living clients from Garden View Village, as well as vulnerable clients in the community, said Interior Health.

The health authority said the move was precautionary, and not due to any change in the fire situation.

Kimberley resident Josh Lockhart told Global News he is packing up three kids, a dog and a bird to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

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He said there is definitely an uneasy and unsettling feeling in the city Friday morning.

“You’re supposed to go about things as usual because it is just an alert, but at the same time you have to be ready to pick up and go at any point,” he said.

“We’re trying to prepare as much as possible and get everything ready to go.”

WATCH: The entire city of Kimberley, B.C. has been put on evacuation alert, as a growing wildfire moves in from the west. 

City of Kimberley on evacuation alert
City of Kimberley on evacuation alert

Lockhart said they are packing the things that cannot be easily replaced, like photos and memorable clothes – things of sentimental value.

A community meeting was held two nights ago, which Lockhart attended, and he said residents were told if the fire reaches the St. Mary Valley then firefighters will be on hand to fight the flames.

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“Where it’s burning right now, it’s a little too dangerous for front-line workers to get to.”

“They’re ready for it when it comes down into the St. Mary Valley.”

Fire information officer Travis Abbey told Global News a trapper’s cabin may have been lost in the fire, as it is inside the main fire location, but he could not confirm if it survived or not. He said no other homes or structures had been lost as of Friday afternoon.

“The threat to homes will exist until we complete our containment operations…or we get days of rain,” Abbey said.

New mapping Thursday helped better define the boundaries of the blaze and indicated it has not merged with the 1,391-hectare Mount Dickson wildfire, which is burning to the southwest of the Meachen Creek blaze.

An expanded forest service road restrictions are in effect for the Meachen Creek, Redding Creek, Grey Creek and White Boar forest service roads.

B.C. Parks has also issued a partial closure of Kianuko Provincial Park.

Both fires are said to have been ignited by lightning July 30 and Aug. 1.

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Both fires are burning out of control and no resources other than two pieces of heavy machinery have been committed to fight the blazes.