The Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) has declared a state of emergency and seven properties have been ordered evacuated because of a 231-hectare fire, out of out-of-control fire at Clowhom Lake.
Five more properties have been put on evacuation alert.
SCRD board chair Leonard Lee ordered the state of emergency the afternoon of Sept. 15, according to a Facebook post from the SCRD.
The SCRD has activated an emergency operations centre (EOC), which made the evacuation order based on advice from the BC Wildfire Service, said a post on the district website. "The order ensures protection of human life and while firefighters work to control the wildfire and protect critical infrastructure," said the post. "Sunshine Coast Search and Rescue will be expediting this action."
Gibsons & District Volunteer Fire Department chief Rob Michael is the EOC director. "It is important for people to abide by evacuation orders,” he said in the post. “Structure protection is also being implemented for properties within the alert area."
The Clowhom Lake fire, discovered Aug. 29, is suspected to have been caused by lightning, according to the BC Wilfire Service (BCWS) wildfire map.
One residence in the evacuation area
While seven properties are under evacuation order, there's only one cabin (structure) affected by the order, Michael told Coast Reporter. While Search and Rescue were prepared to deliver evacuation notices, Michael said the wildfire officer in Powell River told him the owners of the cabin have moved to a place on the other side of the lake, so are currently safe.
The evacuation alert area is mostly in the area of the BC Hydro dam and an Independent Power Project, said Michael, and that BC Wildfire had been in constant communication with those parties, "so they're fully aware of the evacuation alert in that area." There are some powerlines nearby that could be impacted, said Michael, but BCWS has been in contact with those parties to mitigate those challenges. It would not affect residents or the wider population, said Michael.
As the local government, the SCRD is responsible for issuing evacuation alerts and orders, but those come to them from BCWS as recommendations, said Michael. To enact evacuation orders, the local government needs to activate an emergency operations centre as well as declare of state of local emergency.
"At this point we'll just be monitoring, offering any assistance as required by BC Wildfire Services or BC Hydro or any of our other partners or stakeholders," said Michael. He also stressed that the public "is not imminently at risk."
"The general population of the Sunshine Coast is not at risk at this time," he said.
Sept. 15 saw increased fire behaviour and downslope growth along the fire's southeast corner, an update on the BCWS wildfire map says, adding that a guard at the bottom of said slope remains viable.
BCWS has increased preparation ahead of strong winds expected over the weekend, says the map details.
BC Hydro and dam infrastructure in the area are not immediately threatened by the fire, says the map. The public is asked to stay away from the area.