The Monte Lake Store is gone as a result of the White Rock Lake wildfire burning out of control at an estimated 32,500 hectares between Vernon and Kamloops, confirmed a local government representative.
Electoral Area L chairman Kenneth Gillis said Thursday night although he hasn’t heard official word from BC Wildfire Services, he has it on good authority that it’s a total loss.
“I have it on reliable authority that the Monte Lake Store burned to the ground, propane tanks exploding in the process,” he told Black Press, but he’s not sure the extent of the damages beyond that.
Another evacuation order for 303 properties within the Westwold and Monte Lake area that were previously on alert is now in place as of 9:15 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 5. More than 370 properties in Pritchard were ordered evacuated.
The TNRD has issued an Evacuation Order for 303 properties in Electoral Area "L" in the vicinity of Westwold/Monte Lake, which were previously on Alert, due to the White Rock Lake Wildfire #BCWildfirehttps://t.co/eBHREnNiAC pic.twitter.com/qFaMSTWsJ6— TNRD (@TNRD) August 6, 2021
An alert was also issued for 117 additional properties.
The City of Kamloops has issued an alert for properties in Campbell Creek, Barnhartvale and Dallas as the fire continues to advance. This alert also includes the BC Wildlife Park, which is home to more than 200 animals.
Evacuation orders remain in effect for thousands across four municipal jurisdictions and the Okanagan Indian Band, Thursday night, and residents are reminded to adhere to the orders.
RCMP and BC Wildfire Service personnel continue a tactical evacuation for those who have chosen to stay despite the evacuation orders.
“When we knock on your door with an evacuation alert, that’s the time to prepare,” Vernon North Okanagan RCMP said in a tweet. “When we knock on the door with an evacuation order, it is time to go.”
Gillis said those who disobeyed orders have caused a lot of frustration in a terrifying situation, echoing the sentiments of other agencies.
BC Wildfire Services incident commander Scott Rennick said people were given ample notice to evacuate.
“But those who chose to stay put my staff at tremendous risk in the path of the fire to get them out of harm’s way,” he said. “Do not put my people in the position that some others did today.”
Highway 97 between Falkland and Monte Lake is closed. The turnoff to Vernon from Kamloops is blocked off and all motorists are asked to avoid using backroads to access the evacuation zone.
Heavy traffic from other travellers in the area slowed evacuations, according to the Columbia Shuswap Regional District.
“Evacuees are being impeded by congestion and other drivers attempting to get around the road closures.”
Detours are currently available via Highway 97A, Highway 97B and Highway 1. There is no estimated time of reopening.
BC Wildfire Services said in its 7 p.m. update the wildfire continues to display “extremely vigorous surface and active crown fire.”