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Structures, campground destroyed as White Rock Lake wildfire grows to 45,000 hectares

Regional district waiting until it is safe before conducting assessment of the damage

Multiple structures and a campground were reportedly lost as the White Rock Lake wildfire moved through the Monte Lake east of Kamloops on Thursday night.

Thompson-Nicola Regional District (TNRD) board chair Kenneth Gillis said Friday morning, Aug. 6, that TNRD staff hadn’t been able to assess the wildfire damage that occurred overnight at a community along Highway 97 in Electoral Area L, but he was aware that structures had been lost.

“We know the Monte Lake General Store burned,” said Gillis. “We have it on reliable authority that the fire moved up towards Paxton Valley from there and that some residences were lost there.

“We know that at least one of the campgrounds along the highway was destroyed last night. But we don’t know just how far down the road the fire went. Or if any infrastructure or homes survived there last night.”

Gillis said he was awaiting a briefing on the situation from the BC Wildfire Service.

“We have not had an opportunity to go in and assess the damage yet because it’s not safe to go in there yet…,” said Gillis. “We’re hoping to have some of our own people go in there sooner than later, but it’s probably going to be later rather than sooner.”

Residents evacuated from the area were advised to go to the reception centre set up at MacArthur Island Park in Kamloops. Residents from Pritchard and other neighbouring areas put on evacuation orders last night were advised to do the same.

Read more: Wildfire devastates community of Monte Lake; Kamloops on high alert as blaze edges closer

Read more: UPDATE: Evac orders in Pritchard, parts of Kamloops on alert due to White Rock Lake wildfire

On Thursday night, the City of Kamloops issued evacuation alerts for properties in Barnhartvale, Dallas and Campbell Creek.

As of Friday morning, the White Rock Lake wildfire was estimated at 45,000 hectares and burning out of control.

It stretched from the most northern flank at 13 kilometres southeast of Pritchard to the most southeastern perimeter five kilometres from Westside Road.

The wildfire grew exponentially over the past 24-hours along the northeastern and eastern flanks, with minimal growth along the southeast flank.

Fire officials have expressed disappointment in those who chose not to leave the evacuation order areas and put first responders at risk.

“Efforts were taken away from actively suppressing the wildfire and protecting structures and were redirected towards tactically evacuating those who choose to remain in evacuation order areas. This continues to be an incredibly volatile situation displaying extremely vigorous surface and active crown fire with spotting upwards of one kilometre ahead of the main fire front,” stated BC Wildfire.

BC Wildfire says it’s working with the regional district to complete a full assessment.

Overnight temperatures dropped into the mid-teens with winds gusting from 10 to 30 km/hr. For Friday, winds are expected to pick up to 25 km/hr in some spots and up to 40 km/hr into the evening.

“There’s no telling where this thing is going to go,” said Gillis. “The winds are terrible and they’re moving it quickly. I understand it moved 18 kilometres in eight hours yesterday.”
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