Looking north from Ashcroft to Cache Creek at noon on July 10. Photo by David Dubois.

Ashcroft wildfire hits 6,100 hectares

Some 120 firefighters, eight helicopters, and eight pieces of heavy equipment are fighting the blaze

An evacuation order remains in place today for residents of Cache Creek, 16 Mile, 20 Mile, and all points to the north of Scottie Creek and Hihium Lake. Loon Lake remains on evacuation alert, as the Ashcroft Reserve wildfire that started late on Thursday, July 6 continues to rage.

The fire is now listed as being 6,100 hectares in size, and is zero per cent contained. Some 120 firefighters, eight helicopters, and eight pieces of heavy equipment are fighting the fire, with out-of-province crews expected in the area on Tuesday, July 11.

The evacuation alert for the Village of Ashcroft that was issued on Friday, July 7 was rescinded on July 9. An information centre has been established at the Ashcroft fire hall, and cases of bottled water are available for all area residents.

Dozens of BC Hydro personnel worked throughout July 7 and 8 to restore power to Ashcroft, which had been without electricity since approximately 1:30 p.m. on July 7, and are now working to replace the many poles and lines that were destroyed. Power was restored late on the evening of July 8. One of the town’s reservoirs had been drained, but the water treatment system is now back to normal levels.

As of noon on July 10, Highway 1 is closed from 10km south of Cache Creek to 5km east. Highway 97 is closed from Cache Creek to Clinton, and there is no access to or from Highway 99. Highway 97C from Logan Lake to Ashcroft is open to local traffic only.

Two vehicles from Fort MacMurray, laden with supplies for evacuees in Kamloops, arrived in the city earlier today. A trailer emblazoned with such messages as “BC Bound Donations”, “From Our Home To Yours”, and “YMM heart BC” [YMM is the IATA code for Fort MacMurray International Airport]. Water, Gatorade, food, and infant supplies were among the items donated.

Despite rumours to the contrary, there is ample accommodation in Kamloops for evacuees. “There are currently NO issues with finding accommodation for evacuees,” says Debbie Sell, an information officer for the Thompson-Nicola Regional District Emergency Operation Centre. “We are concerned that residents who are evacuated may think they should not come to Kamloops to get support.

“Evacuees should register at the Emergency Support Services reception centre set up at Thompson Rivers University. Accommodation and other support services can be set up for them.” Call the ESS at 1-866-377-7188 for information.

A support group has been set up on Facebook for evacuees and those wanting to help. Go to “Cache Creek / Ashcroft to 100 Mile Evac & Support Group” for information.

United Steel Workers 7619 (Highland Valley Copper) members are hosting a free barbecue in Ashcroft at 5 p.m. on Monday, July 10 at Royal Canadian Legion Branch #113 in Ashcroft. The barbecue is to feed the countless volunteers and community members who are putting in overtime to help their friends and neighbours.

Contrary to rumours, there is currently no imminent threat to the Village of Cache Creek, nor has there been any looting. There is a strong RCMP presence in the town, with police making regular patrols of the village.

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