Shambhala back on for its final night
Published Sunday, August 13, 2017 1:21PM PDT
Last Updated Sunday, August 13, 2017 7:39PM PDT
A music festival in the Central Kootenays that was cancelled due to an encroaching wildfire is now back on.
Music is playing as scheduled at Shambhala after organizers and fire officials decided Sunday morning that rain and cooler weather have downgraded the threat of the McCormick Creek wildfire burning about 10 kilometres from festival grounds.
"It's been raining since first thing this morning and it's like 18 degrees," festival founder Jimmy Bundschuh said. "We determined that the fire was not a threat to the site for the duration of the festival."
Sunday will be the final night for the festival, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary.
Tomas Serrano is at Shambhala. He heard the announcement around 6 a.m.
"They announced it while we were all on the dance floor doing a rain dance," he said. "Guess it worked."
On Saturday, festival organizers had decided to end the festival a day earlier than planned and told guests to pack their things and be ready to leave early Sunday morning.
"Yesterday the fire was looking bad… it was kind of flaring up. It was 35 degrees and there were winds from the south, which were blowing towards the [festival] site," Bundshuh said.
At the time Bundshuh made the deicision to end the festival early for the safety of the crowds. But now, conditions are looking better.
Ryan Turcott with the the BC Wildfire Service also noted the McCormick Creek wildfire hadn't grown significantly overnight. It's sitting at about 337 hectares in size and 15 per cent contained.
Festival-goers who already left after being told the festival would shut down early are being allowed back in, Bundschuh says.
"It's been quite the roller coaster for us," he said.
Many people, however, are following through with their plans to leave.
Dawn Roberts with the RCMP says she's aware that the final night of Shambhala is continuing Sunday, but says she's seeing a steady stream of people leaving even though it's back on.
The area remains under evacuation alert, she noted.
The festival grounds on Salmo River Ranch are only accessible by one road, which was a concern for officials with the wildfire so close. Festival organizers had built a temporary footbridge over the Salmo River to allow guests to exit on foot in an evacuation.
The wildfire near Shambhala is one of 153 fires burning in B.C. This fire season is the second worst on record in terms of land area burned.
With files from CTV Vancouver’s Sarah MacDonald and The Canadian Press.