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Squamish Valley wildfire now 50% contained as crews continue to battle blaze

Click to play video 'Fast-moving Brackendale wildfire difficult to fight' Fast-moving Brackendale wildfire difficult to fight
The latest on a fast-moving wildfire that was first spotted wednesday near Brackendale, north of Squamish. Paul Johnson reports on the evacuation, and why the fire is proving so difficult for fight.

This story has been updated throughout the day as crews make progress on containing the wildfire.

The Magee Road wildfire burning near Squamish is now 50 per cent contained, BC Wildfire Service said Saturday, but is still classified as out of control.

“Crews have made extremely good progress … in the valley section of the fire,” fire information officer Marg Drysdale said late Saturday afternoon.

The wildfire remains at 203 hectares in size, with no growth detected overnight.

Yet Drysdale says crews are continuing to have a tough time battling the blaze, which is burning on rough terrain about 15 kilometres northwest of Brackendale.

READ MORE: Crews continue to battle B.C.’s first major wildfire of 2020 near Squamish

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“This is going to be a case for the next couple of days where crews are continuously working on getting a handle on hot spots” on the slopes in the area, she said.

Still, Drysdale said crews have benefitted from consistent weather since the wildfire was first reported Thursday. Officials believe the fire spread from a human-started slash pile burn Wednesday afternoon.

Wildfire crews have worked their way to the top of the north slope, Drysdale said, and have made it mid-slope on the south flank, where the terrain is more difficult.

Click to play video 'Squamish fire threatens homes and campground' Squamish fire threatens homes and campground
Squamish fire threatens homes and campground

Two helicopters are continuing to provide air support to the 38 firefighters on the ground, who are working alongside three heavy equipment units.

BC Hydro has also brought in 40 workers to restore power to the area, Drysdale added. The utility company is working with danger tree fallers who are helping clear the way to affected power lines.

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Evacuation orders and alerts issued by the Squamish Lillooet Regional District remain in place. Six homes have been evacuated while the Paradise Valley area, Squamish Nation Ch’iyakmesh Reserve and an area north of Magee Road are on alert.

READ MORE: Squamish Valley wildfire leads to evacuations, local state of emergency

The Evans Lake Forestry Education Society outdoor camp says it has evacuated all staff and residents, and is protecting its structures with rooftop sprinklers.

All visitors and non-resident property owners are being asked to stay out of the Squamish and Paradise valleys.

Residents have told Global News and the Canadian Press that at least three homes have been destroyed by the wildfire.

A state of local emergency also remains in place for the district.

READ MORE: B.C. ban on open-burning now in effect

Drysdale says with rain expected in the forecast on Tuesday, the goal is to contain as much as the blaze as possible before the weather hopefully takes care of it for good.

“This fire is going to remain a challenge until then,” she warned.

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An open burn ban is now in place across the province, although campfires are not covered by the order.

As of midday Friday, the fire danger rating for B.C.’s most populated regions was rated as moderate, though a large swath of the province was rated as low.

—With files from Robyn Crawford, Amy Judd, Simon Little and the Canadian Press