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Small wildfire continues to burn out of control near Pemberton

Meanwhile, SLRD downgrades some evacuation orders to alerts near the Casper Creek and Downton Lake fires

A small wildfire burning about 20 kilometres northeast of Pemberton remains out of control this weekend, according to the BC Wildfire Service (BCWS). 

In an update to its website on Friday afternoon at around 4:40 p.m., the BCWS estimated the Spetch Creek fire was about 17 hectares in size, or 0.17 square kilometres. The blaze was discovered last Tuesday morning, Aug. 29, and is suspected to have been caused by lightning. 

As of Friday evening, two initial attack crews (each made up of three or four firefighters) and one helicopter were responding to the fire. 

While the significantly larger Bendor Complex fires continue to burn further north, Friday brought some positive news for Upper Bridge River Valley residents, even as two fires of note continue to burn out of control. The complex includes the approximately 9,393-hectare Downton Lake fire, which originated near Gold Bridge, and the Casper Creek wildfire, which has grown to about 10,982 hectares since sparking 24-km west of Lillooet, just north of Seton and Anderson lakes, in July. 

The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) announced the evacuation order that was in place for much of the district’s Electoral Area A in response to the Downton Lake fire has been partially downgraded to an evacuation alert, following discussions with the BCWS. As of Sept. 8 at 4 p.m., orders in place for all SLRD properties in the in the Gold Bridge, Marshall Lake, and Tyaughton Lake areas were replaced with evacuation alerts, as were those for properties the east side of Gun Lake between Keir Road and Weaver Road, and on the North side of Lajoie. Properties in Bralorne remain under alert.

Still, some sections of Electoral Area A remain subject to lingering evacuation orders, including properties on the west side of Gun Lake, the South side of Lajoie Lake and Gun Creek Road. 

Further east, the SLRD also rescinded the evacuation alert that was in place for all SLRD properties in the Yalakom Valley area due to the Casper Creek wildfire, while a new, downgraded alert has replaced the evacuation order that was in effect for all SLRD properties on the north shore of Seton Lake. Properties in the Seton Portage area and north of Connel Creek to Seton Portage remain under evacuation alert.

With that in mind, the BCWS has implemented area restrictions in the vicinity of the Casper Creek fire, and expanded an existing area restriction near the Downton Lake fire

Under B.C.’s Wildfire Act, people must not remain in or enter restricted areas unless they are visiting for an explicitly approved purpose. That could mean travelling in an official capacity,  for the purpose of supporting wildfire suppression activities, travelling to or from their principal residence, so long as it is not under an evacuation order; using a highway, or, in the case of the Downton Lake fire, travelling to or from a  private or leased property for the purposes of accessing your secondary residence or recreational property, so long as it is not under an evacuation order, or “participating in agricultural activities pertaining to livestock or agriculture management on Crown Range, Crown Grazing Lease, private or leased property,” or working BC Hydro to conduct necessary maintenance near the Casper Creek blaze.

While crews continue to seek out and extinguish hot spots across the region, “These are still active wildfires and fire suppression work is ongoing. Area restrictions are put in place to help keep fire suppression personnel and the public safe,” the SLRD explained in a Bendor Range Complex wildfire update posted to the SLRD’s website Friday. 

“Areas affected by wildfires present many hazards, including danger trees, ash pits, unstable slopes and debris. People must stay well outside fire perimeters. Crews, heavy equipment and aircraft will be working for weeks to come in the area. The public must remain out of active work sites even where an area restriction is not in place.” 

On another positive note, the SLRD said on Friday BCWS crews have successfully gained control over the approximately 24-hectare Nomad Creek fire. 

“This means suppression efforts have ensured the fire won’t spread further,” the district explained in Friday’s bulletin.

Still, “The BC Wildfire Service will continue to monitor this fire and firefighters, heavy equipment, aircraft and structure protection personnel remain in the area and are prepared to respond if required.”