UPDATED: Fires heating up East Kootenay

Evacuation order lifted for Kragmont community, alert still in place as crews battle wildfire.

Wildfire crews and volunteer firefighters are battling a blaze out by Baynes Lake that was discovered this weekend.

Wildfire crews and volunteer firefighters are battling a blaze out by Baynes Lake that was discovered this weekend.

Crews are currently battling a blaze out in the Baynes Lake area which had forced evacuation orders and alerts over the weekend.

Discovered on Saturday, the fire quickly developed into 200-hectare in size, before crews, including 25 firefighters, aircraft and multiple pieces of heavy machinery, went to work.

In addition, volunteer firefighters with the Jaffray and Baynes Lake fire departments also responded and worked through the night to help contain the fire.

The RDEK has declared a State of Local Emergency for the Baynes Lake / Kragmont area and their Emergency Program has been activated to coordinate the evacuation orders and alerts, provide Emergency Social Services support to those affected, and provide support to the BC Wildfire Service as they work to contain the fire.

An evacuation order was issued early Saturday morning for residents south of 1347 Waldo Road, including the community of Kragmont and an area south of the Elk River. That order was lifted on Sunday, and replaced by an alert, meaning residents are encouraged to be read y to leave immediately if required by authorities. An alert is also in place for the Baynes Lake area.

A reception centre has been set up at the at the Jaffray Community Hall for those displaced by the evacuation orders, with over 150 people registering throughout the night.

The highway between the Roosville border crossing and Elk River crossing has also been reopened after being closed Saturday night.

There are differences between an evacuation order and an evacuation alert. An evacuation alert is issued when there is an imminent threat to life and property and people in the defined area should be ready to leave on short notice. When an evacuation order is issued, people are advised to leave the area immediately.

For residents in the affected area, prepare ahead by organizing an emergency supply kit with necessary prescription medications, personal toiletries, a change of clothing, insurance papers and other important documents.

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: http://www.bcwildfire.ca

With files from Carolyn Grant