With over 240 wildfires burning across BC, including a number of Fires of Note in the East Kootenay, the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) is urging residents and travellers to stay aware, be prepared and plan ahead.
“Whether it is heading out on a vacation, to a second home or into the woods camping, it is critical for people to do their research about wildfires, Crown Land Area Restrictions and Evacuation Alerts or Orders that may be in effect around their destination,” says Regional Emergency Operations Centre Director Fiona Dercole. “If an area is under an Evacuation Alert, or if there is an active wildfire in the immediate area, we encourage people to choose a different destination.”
An Evacuation Alert could turn into an Evacuation Order at any time of day or night. Should an Evacuation Order need to be issued, provincial Emergency Support Services are only available for those living in their primary residence. As evacuations could happen at any time of day or night, vacationers and second homeowners may have limited options if they are displaced from an Order area.
“We also want to remind people that there are no fires permitted anywhere in the East Kootenay at this time – including campfires,” adds Dercole. “We are still receiving reports of campfires and it is critical that everyone abides by these burning restrictions and continues to be extremely diligent.” Portable propane campfires are still permitted at this time; however, they must be ULC and CSA approved and have a maximum flame height of 15cm.
A number of the region’s popular backcountry areas are the subject of area closures prohibiting public access, including the Tanglefoot Area, Dewar Creek northwest of Kimberley, Ptarmigan Creek in the Whiteswan region and Mineral Creek SW of Invermere.
“We want everyone to enjoy a safe weekend and taking the steps ahead of time to be fully aware of the current fire situation and plan accordingly is important,” says Dercole.
There is currently an Evacuation Order in effect for Lazy Lake (east of Wasa) and an Evacuation Alert in effect for the Lakit Lake and Holmes Road areas, including one property on Wildhorse Forest Service Road.
Information on the wildfires and area restrictions can be found on www.bcwildfire.ca. Current Evacuation Alerts and Orders can be viewed on the Emergency Information page of the RDEK’s website at www.rdek.bc.ca.