A few guests and staff were evacuated out of Blue Lake Camp on Wednesday night following an order from the Regional District of East Kootenay, as the nearby Doctor Creek wildfire continues to burn roughly 10 kilometres away.
Todd Hebert, the executive director of the Columbia Outdoor School, which operates the camp, says he was out on site Wednesday, and that the steep and rocky terrain in the southeast side of Findlay Creek area made it difficult for crews to work or aircraft to drop fire retardant.
Then the winds picked up, and the fire quickly made its way down the valley, he said.
Hebert added prevailing winds in the area generally come from the south/southwest, which would push the fire towards the direction of the camp.
“The fire will need to cross over the [Findlay] creek and then travel through a heavily logged area so that should slow it down somewhat,” Hebert wrote, in an email. “This open area will also, I suspect, be easier for the crews to action, lay and build guard.
“I am optimistic that camp will be fine, although the way this fire reacted yesterday [Wednesday] I am also cautious!”
Hebert says a few bookings at the lodge, and a few family vacation rentals, that were set for this weekend have been cancelled. He has also reached out to the Southeast Fire Centre to offer the camp to BC Wildfire Service crews as a place to stay while fighting the fire.
The Doctor Creek wildfire is currently estimated at 400 hectares, although the Southeast Fire Centre says the size is expected to grow as more accurate mapping becomes available and due to the aggressive nature of the fire caused by extremely dry fuels in the area.
Southeast Fire Centre information officer Kim Wright confirmed that there are currently 40 personnel members on site, as well as heavy equipment such as dozers and an excavator which are working on containment lines and structural protection
They also have aircraft in the area, being dispatched as assigned.
The fire, approximately 25 kilometres southwest of Canal Flats, is suspected to be lightning-caused.
The RDEK evacuation order also covers a number of recreation camping sites and a few private properties in the area.
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