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At least 131 structures lost in B.C.’s Shuswap from Bush Creek East wildfire

Click to play video: 'B.C. wildfires: Regional district announces initial count of damaged homes in Shuswap'
B.C. wildfires: Regional district announces initial count of damaged homes in Shuswap
WATCH: Regional district officials in the Shuswap revealing the initial count of buildings destroyed or damaged in the fires, while Highway 1 has reopened to traffic between Chase and Sorrento. Travis Prasad reports – Aug 25, 2023

At least 131 structures have been lost due to the Bush Creek East wildfire, with another 37 structures having sustained partial damage, according to the Columbia Shuswap Regional District.

Canada Task Force 1, a heavy urban search and rescue team, completed more than 500 rapid damage assessments on homes and properties in the area this week.

Click to play video: 'Officials report 131 structures lost in B.C.’s Shuswap from Bush Creek East wildfire'
Officials report 131 structures lost in B.C.’s Shuswap from Bush Creek East wildfire

Residents will be informed about their homes as soon as possible after full assessments are confirmed, and property owners will be individually contacted, the regional district (CSRD) said Friday.

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“Please be aware that these numbers are approximate due to the challenges posed by ongoing wildfires, which have hindered a comprehensive damage assessment,” it wrote in a news release.

“Nevertheless, the CSRD is firmly committed to supporting our community members during this challenging time.”

According to the BC Wildfire Service, the Bush Creek East wildfire is now just over 41,000 hectares in size — a reduction from earlier this week — with arms on both sides of the Adams and Shuswap lakes.

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B.C. wildfires: Shuswap residents ‘feel like criminals’ over tensions with authorities

There are 113 structural protection personnel and 101 firefighters working to contain it, along with more than 100 pieces of heavy equipment and 17 helicopters in the area.

Public information officer Mike McCulley said cooler temperatures and longer nights are working in favour of firefighting crews, but temperatures are expected to rise during the weekend.

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“We do know that fire behaviour will pick up in this area again in the coming days,” he said in a Friday update. “When it gets smoky, it gets really hard to fly.”

Evacuation orders and alerts remain in place, as issued by the CSRD, Adams Lake Indian Band, Skwlāx te Secwepemcúl̓ecw (formerly the Little Shuswap Band) and Thompson-Nicola Regional District.

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“We ask every day if the safety conditions in the area will warrant an order rescind or an alert rescind,” said Derek Sutherland, director of the emergency operations centre for CSRD.

In a statement, the CSRD reiterated that remaining within an evacuation order zone puts safety at risk, including that of first responders. It asked everyone who stays behind to remain within their homes.

“The RCMP and security teams are conducting patrols to enforce safety and security measures,” it wrote.

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“BC Wildfire Service is appealing for your trust in their operations and encourages open communication and collaboration on firefighting efforts.”

The district said it’s working on a process to support civilians who want to help in firefighting, with the BC Wildfire Service.

Meanwhile, the district has hired a barge to ship essential supplies to the North Shuswap. Temporary access permits continue to be suspended in that area, which the wildfire service has deemed unsafe.

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The Ross Creek store in Magna has been restocked, the district said, and supplies are on their way to the Anglemont Marina and Lakeview Community Centre.

Hydro services have been restored to much of Scotch Creek as well.

After a week of closure, the portion of Highway 1 between Chase and Sorrento at the Blind Bay intersection reopened to traffic on Friday. The checkpoint had been a sore point for some area residents who had refused to evacuate, but still needed critical access to goods like food and water.

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Temporary access permits may be available in Sorrento on a case-by-basis by calling 250-833-3397 or emailing sepeoc.info@csrd.ca.

 

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