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Posted: September 4, 2017

Evacuation order issued for Whiteswan

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Shifting winds and rapidly changing conditions are fueling the flames on the White River Complex Fires tonight. Due to the rapidly changing conditions, the Regional District of East Kootenay has issued an evacuation ORDER for the Whiteswan Lake area. Smoke from the White River Complex Fires can be seen from across much of the East Kootenay.

The evacuation ORDER area includes:
• The four private properties adjacent to Whiteswan Lake and Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park, including all campgrounds.

Current Evacuation Alerts or Orders:

• Evacuation ORDER area including the 4 private properties adjacent to Whiteswan Lake and Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park, including all campgrounds
(effective September 3, 2017 @20:30)
• Evacuation ORDER for Moyie North including Mineral and Monroe Lakes -174 properties including Provincial Campground and 3 private campgrounds
(effective September 1, 2017 @ 18:00)
• Evacuation ORDER for Moyie South – affecting approximately 223 properties (one of which is 277 site Eagles Nest campground)
(effective September 2, 2017 @ 12:00)
• Evacuation ORDER for Newgate / West Koocanusa – 18 properties (but includes 300 campground sites on private campgrounds)
(effective September 2, 2017 @ 22:00)
• Evacuation ALERT for east side of Koocanusa in Grasmere Area (135 properties)
(effective September 2, 2017 @ 20:30)
• Evacuation ALERT in the Mission/Fort Steele area due to the St. Mary River Fire – approximately 100 properties
(effective September 1, 2017 @ 20:00)
• Evacuation ALERT on the Aqam Reserve for 36 residences (effective September 3, 2017)

Current Fire Updates:

Lamb Creek Fire:
* Two evacuation ORDERS remain in place
* The Fire was mapped at 635 hectares this morning
* They had 12 pieces of heavy equipment on the fire today, along with crews, helicopters, air skimmer and air tanker support. The air skimmers and air tankers can only fly when smoke conditions permit and it was very smoky today, particularly during the morning inversion. The Structural Protection Unit is still on site and the team is continuing with its assessments.

St. Mary River Fire:
* They made good progress on the fire today. It is now classified as being held, which is a great step forward. The fire is still estimated at 398 hectares in size. There was no growth on the fire today. The evacuation order for the 36 properties on the Aqam Reserve has been downgraded to an evacuation alert and residents were able to go home today. They are reminded to be ready and prepared to leave again should conditions worsen.

* This fire continued to be very active today, burning on the US side and the Canadian side. The winds on the fire are expected to shift tonight and blow from the north to the south. The fire continues to display aggressive behaviour. 19 personnel, 3 helicopters, and 3 pieces of heavy equipment worked the fire all day and an initial attack crew will be staying on site overnight again tonight doing patrols.
* The fire on the Canadian side is estimated at 300 hectares and is still burning west of Newgate along the border line near where the fire started. On the US side, it is estimated at 2744 hectares.
* The evacuation ORDER remains in place for the Newgate / Koocanusa West and the evacuation ALERT remains in place for the east side of the lake in the Grasmere area.

White River Complex:
* The estimated combined size is 10,000 hectares. The evacuation ORDER was issued for the Whiteswan area on this fire tonight.

Quinn Creek:
• This fire is burning in a remote area east of Top of the World Provincial Park. This fire has also been very active as is now estimated at 2700 hectares in size. It is in a remote area not threatening any structures or communities at this time, but you can see the smoke plume most notably in the afternoon during the heat of the day.

Flathead/Wigwam Area Fires:
• The Lodgepole Forest Service Road Fire in the Elk Valley continues to grow. The new size estimate is 1731 hectares. This the largest of the fires in the Flathead / Wigwam and none of them threaten any communities or structures at this time.
Verdant Creek Fire:
• There are no significant changes to report. This large (15,000+ hectare fire) is continuing to be managed by Parks Canada.

• The Highways in the region are not currently being affected by the fires or evacuations and are open.
• There is a general travel advisory in place as there may be areas of heavy smoke and there may be congestion in the Moyie area. There is a “no stopping” section established in the Moyie area to keep traffic moving
• The Air Quality Advisory remains in effect
• The campfire ban remains in effect
• The backcountry closure remains in effect. Questions about the closure can be directed to Front Counter BC at 250-426-1766

Air Canada brought in a larger sized plane this afternoon to accommodate all passengers on one flight from Cranbrook to Calgary. The Cranbrook to Vancouver flights were good. If you are planning to fly over the next couple of days, it would be a good idea to call ahead and check on the flight status.


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