Hwy. 1 reopens after fast-growing wildfire breaks out west of Kamloops
A fast-growing wildfire near a small B.C. town west of Kamloops closed Highway 1 in both directions for hours Wednesday.
The wildfire broke out Wednesday roughly three kilometres west of Savona on the side of the highway near the Thompson River, and has since grown to 100 hectares in size three hours later.
B.C. Wildfire Service said at 3:30 p.m. the fire and smoke was not affecting the road, but roughly an hour later, Drive BC announced the highway was completely closed.
Pictures from the scene show flames shooting up off the side of the highway, and heavy smoke blanketing the area, which sits directly between Kamloops and Cache Creek.
Freelance photographer Nathan Ritchie made his way to the scene of the fire, and watched as the high winds quickly whipped up the flames.
“It was pretty wild,” he told Global News. “I got there when it was just a little grass fire near a power pole, and now it’s got the whole valley lit up.”
Ritchie estimated the winds, which can be heard in videos posted to social media, are gusting up to 50 km/h.
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“I saw another reporter closer to the fire,” Ritchie added. “When that wind picked up it just sent a wall of flames towards the poor guy, and I’ve never seen someone scramble their stuff together so fast.”
Ritchie said several fire crews have since responded to the fire, including members from B.C. Wildfire Service, B.C. Highways and some local fire departments.
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B.C. Wildire Service said air tankers are providing support to ground crews, who plan to remain on the site overnight.
“Erratic and gusty winds are challenging suppression efforts,” the service said in a tweet, which also dubbed the fire the Sabiston Creek wildfire.
A later update from officials said the fire was responding well to suppression efforts.
The service says on its website the fire is suspected to be human-caused.
Power has been knocked out in some parts of the area, affecting more than 1,000 customers.
At 7 p.m., Drive B.C. reported the highway had been reopened in both directions.
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