Update: 3:45 p.m. (June 4)
Highway 97 north of Vernon is now fully open, DriveBC reports.
Emergency crews were at work today at Mardan Lumber Sales, between Grandview Flats and Tonasket roads, which has been reduced to rubble by a fire that’s BC Wildfire and other local fire personnel engaged since Thursday (June 3) morning.
Single-lane alternating traffic is still in effect along Highway 97 north of Vernon while emergency crews remain on site of a fire that broke out Thursday, June 3.
AIMRoads said this will be the case all day Friday as crews from BC Hydro are on scene repairing damage from the blaze. DriveBC is expected to provide an update by 4 p.m. today.
Thick, black smoke could be seen rising from the blaze at Mardan Lumber Sales, between Grandview Flats and Tonasket roads before 11 a.m. Multiple explosions were also audible and caught on camera by bystanders.
**UPDATE** #BCHwy97 north of #VernonBC remains single lane alternating traffic and will remain so all day as @bchydro works to repair damage from yesterdays fire. Expect delays if using this route and remember to #SlowDown and obey flagging personnel. @TranBC @DriveBC pic.twitter.com/X7FHLqUXnw
— AIMRoads (@AimRoads) June 4, 2021
Multiple fire departments responded to the call, including Okanagan Indian Band, BX-Swan Lake, Armstrong-Spallumcheen and Coldstream. BC Wildfire Service actioned the fire from above dropping retardant by plane. A helicopter was also utilized. There are no fire hydrants in the rural area.
The suspected human-caused fire grew to four hectares, the BC Wildfire Service said in a 5 p.m. update, largely due to active winds.
A Level 1 Emergency Operations Centre was activated by the Township of Spallumcheen which is still in effect.
“Any progression of this incident will be related to winds causing concern to local area residents,” the township said in its activation notice Thursday.
The fire was deemed 70 per cent contained by 5:20 p.m., BC Wildfire Service said.
This is the second fire at the mill in recent years. A fire broke out at Mardan in May 2016.
BC Wildfire Services is set to provide an update later this morning.