V.Chr. forest fires: Kimberley open to companies despite evacuation alarm

A helicopter flies past a plume of smoke that rises from a forest fire at Fraser Lake, BC, on Wednesday, August 15, 2018.


The city of Kimberley, BC, remains evacuated as an alarm nearly 600 fires in the entire province burned, giving rise to the declaration of a state of emergency earlier this week.

Fifty of the fires are considered highly visible or potentially dangerous to people or property, and BC According to Wildfire Service, approximately 436,000 hectares of forest have been consumed so far.

Kimberley – who has been alert since Thursday night – is a popular holiday destination for many Albertans. The mayor of the city estimates that at least 65 percent of Kimberley's tourism comes from Alberta.

"With regard to Calgarians or someone from Alberta who usually comes out on weekends, they can still do that," said Mayor Don McCormick. "It's either smoky in Calgary, or smoky in Kimberley, and the evacuation warning should not affect anyone who would spend the weekend or their time here."

McCormick said despite the dark and smoky sky, most companies are still open and the city has an emergency plan in place, pending any changes.

According to Kimberley Tourism, the city continues to book visitors and there have been few cancellations, but one camp site on the outskirts of the city suffers a huge drop in numbers.

Leanna Winter, manager at Kimberley Riverside Campground, said that from Friday afternoon only 37 campsites were booked, lower than the 139 sites booked on Thursday evenings. The campsite – whose Winter said it is always full of tourists from Alberta – is located on the outskirts of the city, bordering the St. Mary Valley, which is in evacuation order.

"We will continue to operate until otherwise told by the RCMP," she said. "All our guests are fully aware of the situation and they are prepared and ready to immediately notice when they have to go."

The warning in Kimberley was motivated by strong winds as a wildfire of 56 square kilometers pushed north toward the city, while 65 houses in St. Mary Valley – about 10 kilometers southwest of Kimberley – were ordered to to evacuate on Thursday evening.

"(The forest fire near Kimberley) looks like it has settled down a bit in the night, which is not unexpected, given that temperatures tend to go down," said BC Wildfire Service Chief Fire Information Officer Kevin Skrepnek. "But it is still a big threat there, and given the fact that there will be a shortage of rain in the near future, that will be a constant concern." [Skyrink] Skrepnek said that a fire close to Creston, BC, has caused a voyage advice to be in effect for part of Highway 3, which could affect vacationers.

A view of downtown Kimberley, BC, on a clear day.

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Tara Herman was born and raised in Calgary and moved to Kimberley 10 years ago. On Friday morning she woke up and quickly grabbed a bag with supplies, as well as a hard disk full of photo & # 39; s and dog food for her black lab. Then she called her parents in Claresholm to make sure she could go to the head when the alarm in an order changed.

"It's super smoky, there's ash, as if your car is just covered with ash in the morning," she said. "There are pine needles that have been sucked up and dumped everywhere. The air is creepy and I normally have a great view of the Purcell Mountains from my place, but you can not see anything at all, it is just smoke. "

Herman walked the center Friday morning and said that while the atmosphere is reasonably calm, everyone is" just cycling around and talking about what's going on and a bit of a wait to hear. People are a bit on edge. "

Fires in southeastern BC continue to invade Alberta and cause most of the smoke that Calgary has covered over the past few days.Advisories of air quality remain in effect for much of Western Canada, as the fires remain lit.

– With files from the Canadian press

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