Pemberton Meadows sandwiched between two fires 

Evacuation ordered at Howe Sound Outdoor School

An evacuation order has been issued for some residents of Pemberton Meadows who are being sandwiched by fires on Copper Mountain and Camel's Back mountain.

Residents living north of Lillooet River from 9440 Hurley River Road up to and including the Howe Sound School District Outdoor School, were ordered to evacuate at 1:30 this afternoon.

Meanwhile, the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District has issued an evacuation alert for the upper Pemberton Meadows, north of the Wilson Road-Pemberton Meadows Road intersection, about 20 km north of the Village of Pemberton.

The Hurley Forest Service Road is closed to all, while Pemberton Meadows Road north of Wilson Road is restricted to essential travel only. The Pemberton Meadows Road restriction does not apply to residents of the area.

Reports out of Pemberton Meadows Thursday evening said that farmers in the area were moving their machinery and livestock into safer areas.

The Camel's Back fire, which was started by lightning, grew overnight Thursday-Friday and is now estimated at 325 hectares. It is not contained.

Across the Lillooet River from the Camel's Back fire, the Copper Mountain fire is estimated to be 250 hectares.

The Coastal Fire Centre has warned residents that a "substantial" amount of smoke is in the area and that they may experience continued ash fallout from the fire.

There's a community meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. July 31 at the old Pemberton Community Centre on Pemberton Meadows Road.

A public information line has been established at 1-866-417-4132 for area residents to call for update information. SLRD staff are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer calls at the SLRD office at 1-800-298-7753.

There are 15 helicopters and 45 firefighters assigned to the fires in the region. Air tankers are also supporting fire suppression efforts.

Fire crews will be building a fuel-free zone on the lower side of the Camel's Back fire approximately 1 km in length, to join up existing road systems to add to the fuel-free zone.

Mike McCulley, a fire information officer with the Coastal Fire Centre, said in a Friday interview that the Crystal Ridge fire on Blackcomb remains the top priority for the Ministry of Forests because of its proximity to infrastructure but that the fire service has "significant resources" to deal with the numerous blazes.

"We've got significant resources in the valley," he said. "We've got some crews in from other provinces, Ontario and Manitoba have sent ground resources and we also have command teams from those provinces so we are strapped in terms of prioritizing the fires but resource-wise we're not in bad shape."

A news release at 4 p.m. today stated that more than 26 new fires were started in the last 24 hours in the Pemberton Fire Zone, which extends as far south as Lions Bay and as far north as D'Arcy.

The fires in the Pemberton area have necessitated the closures of backcountry areas close to Copper Mountain.

The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District said in a July 29 news release that backcountry travel has been restricted in the Tenquille Lake area, which is close to Copper Mountain. Hiking and access trails connected to the Hurley and Lillooet River Forest Service Roads have been closed to all public access as crews battle the fire that's been burning since July 25.

"(They) will remain closed until the fire control operations have got the fire to a point where they feel it is safe for the public to be allowed back into those areas," said Starr Munro, a fire information officer with the Coastal Fire Centre.

Munro was careful, however, to specify that only the trails connected to those roads are being restricted at this time. Hikers, cyclists and other users of trails can still access backcountry areas elsewhere.

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