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Wildfire destroys homes, Monte Lake general store

Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Don Tryon
August 06, 2021 - 9:17 AM

Multiple structures have been lost in the Monte Lake area due to wildfire blazing through the region.

Monte Lake general store was lost, propane tanks blew up, one campsite along Highway 97 was also destroyed and multiple homes have been lost, said Thompson Nicola Regional District board chair Ken Gillis.

“I would expect they would be in the general vicinity of Highway 97,” he said, adding that it’s currently impossible for the regional district to do an assessment at this time to confirm the number of commercial and residential structures lost.

The fire jumped Highway 97 yesterday, which the B.C. Wildfire Service hoped would act as a fire guard, he said.

“We’ve had major issues with people staying behind and apparently firefighters had to be pulled from the fire line to get people out once it became as dire as it did, so we’ve been imploring people to obey the evacuation orders when they come down,” Gillis said.

The White Rock Lake wildfire is currently 45,000 hectares in size and burning roughly 13 kilometres southeast of Pritchard, said B.C. Wildfire Service information officer Hannah Swift.

Yesterday, Aug. 5, forecasted southwesterly winds began early in the day around 11:30 a.m., reached up to 40 km/hr.

Highway 97 was closed yesterday afternoon due to safety and the fire progressed to the northeast, Swift said. Shortly after the highway closure, the fire crossed Highway 97, just south of Monte Lake and progressed in a northeast direction.

“The most northern fire perimeter, which is a bit of a finger where the fire crossed the highway and continued northeast, is approximately 13 km southeast of Pritchard at this point.”

A unit crew using heavy equipment worked throughout the night and were able to establish a control line north of Westwold and Falkland and were able to steer the fire northeast away from the communities.

They were also able to burn off fuels on that control line, she said. It was a “huge, huge success for that unit crew and they worked tirelessly through the night so that was major,” Swift said.

Swift didn’t have an estimate of how far north firefighters established that control line, but structure protection units worked through the night.

There are 100 wildfire fighters, 125 structure protection crews on site today being assisted by 13 helicopters and 31 pieces of heavy equipment with eight danger tree fallers, she said.

Multiple evacuation orders and alerts are in effect within the regional district's boundaries due to the wildfire. For more information, visit the TNRD's website.

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