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Evacuation alert remains in effect due to wildfire near Anderson Lake

Special air quality statement in effect; SLRD, N'Quatqua First Nation to host community information meeting on Tuesday
SMOKE SIGNALS: A wildfire blazing near D'Arcy is visible across Anderson Lake. Photo by Kimberly Hulme. Photo by Derick Courchesne

An evacuation alert remains in effect on Monday for the communities of Ponderosa, McGillivray, D'Arcy and all identified properties in the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) Electoral Area C, due to a wildfire burning near Grouse Creek and Anderson Lake.

The alert was issued in the afternoon on Saturday, Aug. 11, after BC Wildfire Service advised the SLRD that the wildfire, "now poses a potential danger to life and health" for those in the above-mentioned communities.

The Grouse Creek wildfire, located approximately 4.5 kilometres Northwest of D'Arcy is still actively burning after being discovered on Tuesday, Aug. 7. BC Wildfire Service estimated the fire's current size to be 368 hectares, as of Monday.

The SLRD is hosting a community information meeting with N'Quatqua First Nation on Tuesday, Aug. 14 at 6 p.m. for residents affected or concerned about the Grouse Creek fire. The meeting will take place at N'Quatqua Community Hall.

Representatives from BC Wildfire, N'Quatqua Chief Micah Thevarge, SLRD Electoral Area C Director Russell Mack, members of the SLRD Emergency Management team and the N'Quatqua Fire Chief will be in attendance to provide updates and answer questions. According to a web update posted by The BC Wildfire Service on Monday, Aug. 13, "A crew is monitoring this fire and working to establish containment lines. Most of the growth for this fire has been along the height of land and upslope away from homes and infrastructure. Any downslope growth is being continuously monitored by the BC Wildfire Service."

"The weather system that brought the severe thunderstorms to the region has passed and a ridge is developing that will cause a return to warm and dry conditions beginning Monday. Fire behaviour is expected to increase again with the return of warm and dry conditions."

Three firefighters, one helicopter and one piece of heavy machinery are currently working on the blaze.

An evacuation alert is not an order to leave, but an advance warning to prepare residents to evacuate their property if the need to do so arises.

"Residents will be given as much advance notice as possible prior to evacuation; however you may receive limited notice due to changing conditions. Prepare now to leave quickly if it becomes necessary," read the alert.

The Highline Road, located between the fire and Anderson Lake, remains open at this time. However, the SLRD requests that all non-essential travel on the Highline Road be avoided, for both the public's safety and "to ensure uninterrupted access for BC Wildfire crews and other first responders."

The heavy smoke impacting firefighting operations near Anderson Lake also descended into the Whistler valley over the weekend, prompting Environment Canada to issue a special air quality statement for Whistler and surrounding areas on Monday. As of Monday afternoon, Whistler's Air Quality Health Index was listed at 9, or 'high risk.'

"During a wildfire, smoke conditions can change quickly over short distances and can vary considerably hour-by-hour," read the bulletin. "Wildfire smoke is a natural part of our environment but it is important to be mindful that exposure to smoke may affect your health."

The bulletin notes that "people with pre-existing health conditions, the elderly, infants, children and sensitive individuals are more likely to experience health effects from smoke exposure."

They urge those experiencing breathing difficulties to stay somewhere indoors where it's cool and ventilated. "Using an air conditioner that cools and filters air may help. If you open the windows you may let in more polluted air. If your home isn't air-conditioned, consider going to a public place (library, shopping mall, recreation centre) that is air-conditioned."

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