The BC Wildfire Service has designated the St. Mary’s River wildfire as “being held” nearly two weeks after it sparked due to down powerlines and burned through the ʔaq̓am Community north of Cranbrook.
Being held means the fire is not expected to grow beyond pre-existing containment lines, as fire crews have been conducting hand ignitions to clean out unburnt fuel and shore up control lines over the last few days.
Firefighters will continue to patrol the fire and conduct mop up activities.
Additionally, all RDEK evacuation alerts surrounding th wildfire have been rescinded, including the Wasa, Ta Ta Creek, HaHas (Stoney) Lake, Old Airport, Lakit Lake, McGinty Road, Clearview Road, Sommerfeldt Road, Woods Corner West, Campsall Road and Fort Steele areas.
“The RDEK is rescinding the Evacuation Alert for 667 dwellings in proximity of the fire. We are so grateful to the BC Wildfire Service for their tireless efforts throughout the past 12 days,” said Information Officer Loree Duczek. “This is another positive step forward and I know residents who have been on Alert will be excited to hear this news.”
However, the existing ʔaq̓am Community evacuation orders and alerts remain in effect; there are 36 homes under evacuation order, and 26 are under evacuation alert.
The City of Cranbrook has also lifted the evacuation alert for the Canadian Rockies International Airport.
The fire, currently mapped at 4,640 hectares, is suspected to be caused by downed power lines during a heavy windstorm on Monday, July 17.
It destroyed seven homes in th ʔaq̓am Community as it quickly grew, driven by strong winds and dry conditions.