Wildfire forces evacuation in Baynes Lake and beyond

An evacuation order for Kragmont residents and an evacuation alert for Baynes Lake residents sent out following an early morning wildfire.

An evacuation order was sent out to residents of the Kragmont area and an evacuation alert to Baynes Lake residents early Sunday morning following a wildfire that broke out earlier on Saturday.

Both the order and alert were sent out at approximately 2 a.m. on Sunday, July 5 and mandated that residents in affected areas must leave immediately and register at the Jaffray Community Hall.

The presence of strong winds throughout the late afternoon on Saturday and into the night created “very aggressive fire behaviour” in a wildland fire that broke out over the weekend, according to Communications Manager for the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) Loree Duczek.

Overnight precipitation and lighter winds have helped to settle the fire behaviour down since it initially flared, though the last estimated size of the blaze was believed to be 100 hectares.

In Kragmont, residents living in properties south of 1347 Waldo Rd. — including Conroy Road, Tranquility Road, Gavin Road, Canyon Cut Off, Grasmere-Dorr Road, Dorr Cut Off Road and Elko Grasmere Road — must be evacuated.

At this time, only an evacuation alert is in place for Baynes Lake residents.

“Now is the time for people in the Baynes Lake area to get prepared in the event that conditions worsen and the Evacuation Order boundary needs to be expanded. We encourage people to gather important documents, medications, papers, and personal supplies so that they are ready to go should an order be issued,” advised Duczek.

Baynes Lake residents living north of 1347 Waldo Rd. to Kikomun Road are advised to follow evacuation protocol.

According to Duczek, the RDEK has declared a State of Local Emergency for both areas and the local emergency programs have been activated to coordinate the evacuation orders and alerts as well as provide Emergency Social Services to support those affected by the wildfire.

The BC Wildfire Service was working to contain the fire, which blazed south of Baynes Lake, near the Elk River. Air tankers were used to douse the fire and helicopters are continuing to drop water while ground crews and heavy equipment tended to the flames on site, according to the RDEK at approximately 3:30 a.m.

Residents are advised to not return until the evacuation order has been rescinded.

For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, go to: http://www.bcwildfire.ca.