Cathedral Lakes Lodge near Keremeos evacuated as border fire goes international

Guest and staff at Cathedral Lakes Lodge were evacuated from the popular alpine destination earlier this week as a precautionary measure after the Diamond Creek fire jumped the 49th parallel from Washington State into British Columbia.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED

PENTICTON - B.C. Wildfire continues to assess and monitor the Diamond Creek wildfire after it went international earlier this week.

The fire, which began in the Pasayten wilderness 27 miles northwest of Winthrop, Washington on Sunday, July 23, has burned through 48,924 acres with only 63 per cent containment on the American side.

Although not considered an interface fire, the blaze forced the evacuation of around 50 staff and guests at the Cathedral Lakes Lodge earlier this week.

The lodge’s base camp is located 22 kilometres up the Ashnola Road, west of Keremeos. From there, it’s a one hour drive up a steep, four wheel drive private roadway to the lodge, 2,000 metres above sea level. The area is known for its pristine alpine wilderness and access to more than 60 kilometres of hiking trails.

Lodge reservation agent Glenda Patterson says the evacuation was done as a precautionary move, adding the fire was not visible from the lodge, and not yet in Cathedral Provincial Park, which was also closed for public safety reasons.

Patterson said reservations have been cancelled until Sept. 6, with daily reviews depending on fire conditions.

It’s been an unpredictable year for tourist operators in Southern B.C.,” she says, calling the evacuation a mixed blessing.

“It’s tough as a tourism operator, but at least we don’t have that responsibility,” she says, adding the lodge has a fire suppression plan that went into effect in June, with sprinklers and pumps set up to protect lodge assets.

B.C Wildfire reports the fire has burned 1,700 hectares in Canada, as of 8 p.m. yesterday evening, Aug. 30, with zero containment. The fire has been moving in a northeasterly direction, with a recent spike in fire activity after being fueled by steady hot, dry conditions that drove it across the border on Tuesday, Aug. 29. A helicopter assessment is currently being undertaken.

The Wildfire Service has been involved in cross border communications with the U.S. Forest Service since the first week of the fire.

The U.S. Forest Service reports the fire is burning in "timber stands consisting of a mix of fir, spruce and pine, with heavy dead and down fuels which are very receptive to spotting due to critically dry fuel moistures."

B.C. Wildfire crews are conducting assessments on the Diamond Creek fire, which jumped the border into Canada earlier this week.
B.C. Wildfire crews are conducting assessments on the Diamond Creek fire, which jumped the border into Canada earlier this week.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ U.S. Forest Service

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