Fires heating up East Kootenay

Evacuation order in place for the small village of Kragmont as blaze reaches 200 hecatres in size.

  • Jul. 5, 2015 5:00 p.m.

Carolyn GrantDaily Bulletin

A haze of smoke is hanging over the valley as the fire situation in the East Kootenay became much more active over the weekend.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, the RDEK issued an evacuation order for the small village of Kragmont, south of Waldo Road in the south country.

The Southeast Fire Centre  has sent a full response including multiple helicopters and airtankers plus ground crews to the fire which is adjacent to the Elk River south east of Baynes Lake.

Jordan Turner of the Southeast Fire Centre said the fire was estimated at 200 hectares

Loree Duczek, RDEK Information Officer said on Sunday that a cold front passing Saturday night generated strong winds, prompting aggressive/erratic fire behaviour. There was some light precipitation overnight that helped settle the fire behaviour down a bit Sunday morning. Winds were also lighter.

“The Jaffray and Baynes Lake Fire Departments also responded and worked into the night – some of them were still on site at 5 a.m.,” she said.

The Reception Centre for Kragmont residents is at the Jaffray Community Hall.

“We have had 150 people register at the Reception Centre so far and are very grateful to the Emergency Social Services personnel who have worked through the night keeping it open,” Duczek said.

The highway between Roosville and the Elk River crossing was reopened Sunday after being closed over night.

Baynes Lake residents remained on an evacuation alert on Sunday.

Highway 95 between Radium and Golden was closed on Saturday evening, and was open to single lane alternating traffic on Sunday morning due to a fire just north of Spillimacheen. The fire was estimated at 50 hectares on Sunday, Turner said. Ten firefighters and a water tender are on site.

The RDEK’s Windermere Fire Department Structural Protection Unit has protected two homes with sprinklers, Duczek said. A third home did not require sprinkler coverage.

An evacuation order remains in place for one home north of Spillimacheen. Additionally, an alert is in place for the area south of the RDEK Boundary, east of the Columbia River south to Westside Road in Spillimacheen.

In the West Kootenay, an evacuation alert has been issued northeast of Nelson. The evacuation alert was issued for about 350 homes along Highway 3A between Sitkum Creek South and Willow Point (Six Mile Lakes Road), some 10 kilometres northeast of Nelson.

The fire is 60 hectares in size between Duhamel and Sitkum Creeks, four kilometres north of Kootenay Lake.

“With hot and dry conditions forecast through next week and the potential for more thunderstorms, the Southeast Fire Centre is urging the public to be extra cautious in the backcountry,” Turner said. “All person-caused fires are preventable and these incidents may affect the ability of the firefighting crews to respond to naturally occurring fires.

“We are urging the public to continue their participation in reporting any smoke or flames that they may see. You can report a wildfire by calling 1-800-663-5555, or *5555 on your cellular phone.”

For the latest information on current wildfire activity, burning restrictions, road closures and air quality advisories, go to: