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UPDATE: Clearwater under evacuation alert

July 15, 2017 - 2:49 PM

CLEARWATER – Residents of the District of Clearwater are encouraged to prepare to evacuate incase the wildfire buring nearby gets closer.

The community of 2,500 was put on alert this afternoon. Mayor John Harwood says the the fire has moved north from Dunn Lake.

“We have a fairly large fire on the other side of the river from Clearwater,” he says. “It’s the Dunn Lake fires, they’ve gone from Little Fort up the other side of the valley.”

He says the alert is to prepare people if the worst does happen.

“Of course I’m concerned, but we have very active fire departments here and a provincial wildfire crew camp here,” he says. “I’m fairly confident they can manage the situation, but with a fire you never know.”

The B.C. Wildfire Service estimates the fire to be around 2,000 hectares according to the wildfire website. Fire Information Officer Shannon Bond says there are over 200 crew members working on the fire, including 10 bucket helicopters. Air tankers are also making drops.

“We’re going to be working through the day into the night,” she says. “We’re doing everything we can here and waiting for the wind to cooperate.”

The wildfire service recommended the alerts and evacuations to be extra careful she says.

“The reason we recommended the alerts and orders,” she says. “There has been an increase in the wind and increase in fire activity.”

The fire is currently moving north she says.

Environment Canada has issued a statement warning about wind gusting up to 70 km/h in southern B.C. this afternoon. Harwood says that it’s actually a clearer day in Clearwater after a week of smokey skies due to the breeze moving some of the smoke out of the region, but notes that that’s not necessarily a good thing, overall. Bond agrees, and says it's been a cooler day then the last couple thanks to the breeze. 

While the alert is only to get people to prepare to evacuate, the B.C. Ambulance Service has been in communication with the town’s hospital about evacuation. He’s not sure if they are moving forward with plans, but says it’s common for hospitals to evacuate when an alert is issued.

For people preparing to evacuate Harwood says it’s essential to make sure to know where all family members all, collect essential paper work and medication and collect any items of particular personal importance.

Local search and rescue teams will assist with the alert notification including teams from Barriere and Kamloops. Bond says the wildfire service has been monitoring the discussion on social media and says it's heartening to see people working together to figure out plans.

"We understand people are nervous," she says. "It's good to see people are communicating; people are coming together to be effecient."

If it comes to it, Harwood says evacuees would be directed to Kamloops or Barriere, depending on the capacity in Barriere.

Evacuation orders have been issued today for other properties near the same fire.

– This story was updated at 4:55 p.m. Saturday, July 15, 2017, to include new information from the B.C. Wildfire Service.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brendan Kergin or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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