Air quality warning issued by BC government
Editor’s Note: A major fire is burning about 32 miles north of the U.S.-Canadian border near Princeton, BC (Tonasket’s sister city) and smoke has been drifting into the U.S. at Oroville. The B.C. government has issued an air quality warning for those who have health issues that might be exacerbated by smoke particulates in the air. The following is a story filed by our sister newspaper the Similkameen Spotlight, as part of an ongoing story developing in the area. G.A.D.
Andrea DeMeer – Publisher/Editor
PRINCETON, BC – A major forest fire raged out of control just north of Princeton last Tuesday, as The Spotlight went to press.
It was 2,700 hectares (6,672 acres) and had grown 35 percent over the previous day, according to BC Wildfire’s Incident Management Team spokesperson Marg Drysdale.
“On this fire currently we have zero containment and they are working hard to put it out,” said Drysdale.
Tuesday there were 140 firefighters battling the blaze, with the help of eight helicopters, heavy equipment and support staff.
The fire “is suspected to be human-caused and under investigation,” she said.
So far 350 properties in the area have been evacuated.
A spokesperson for the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen confirmed Tuesday it is known at least two homes have been damaged and other structures have been lost.
“That would be the only information that we have, said Cameron Baughen. “It is news that can make people very concerned.”
Monday the Town of Princeton declared a state of emergency as evacuation alerts were issued for rural properties along Highway 5A and Princeton-Summerland Road that buttress municipalities boundaries
“It is just a precaution,” said Princeton spokesperson Lyle Thomas. “The town is in no immediate danger.”
The fire sparked mid-day Friday and spread quickly to 200 hectares in a matter of hours.
Bill Davies, who lives on Seven Mile Road, watched it creep down the mountain towards him.
“When I first saw it I thought ‘what’s someone burning this time of year?’” Within minutes “it was out of control.”
When he evacuated a couple of hours later “the fire was all around us,” he said.
Fifty-four properties were evacuated Friday, and others put on alert over the weekend. Sunday 200 properties in Missezula Lake were placed under evacuation order, along with homes on Highway 5A just outside of town.
Monday families fled from 49 properties on Hembrie Mountain Rd, Jura Station Road, Baker Hill Rd and a specific portion of Princeton Summerland Road.
Another 257 area homes are on evacuation alert.
See more at the Similkameen Spotlight’s webpage.