Shambhala Music Festival placed under evacuation alert over wildfire
The Shambhala Music Festival is seen in this Aug. 2013 file image. (YouTube)
Published Saturday, August 12, 2017 11:51AM PDT
Last Updated Saturday, August 12, 2017 3:34PM PDT
Attendees of a popular electronic music festival in B.C.'s Southern Interior are under evacuation alert after the McCormick wildfire jumped the Salmo River.
The Regional District of Central Kootenay expanded an evacuation alert to include the Shambhala Music Festival at 9 a.m. Saturday morning.
Other areas including Nelway have been issued evacuation orders because of the fire, meaning people need to leave, but the festival itself is under alert, meaning attendees should be ready to evacuate.
The threat is due to the McCormick Creek wildfire, which is burning south of Salmo, B.C. and 9 kilometres southwest of Shambhala.
On Saturday afternoon the fire was 350 hectares in size, which is relatively small compared to other fires like the Elephant Hill wildfire near Ashcroft that is nearly 125,000 hectares.
There are 27 wildfire personnel as well as helicopters and heavy equipment devoted to battling the McCormick Creek fire. BC Wildfire says the fire is increasing in size and threatening properties in the area.
"We're expecting it to behave a little bit unpredictably. And in fact, it is," said Ryan Turcott, an information officer with the BC Wildfire Service.
The service says festival-goers should make sure they leave enough time to return home safely.
According to the B.C. Ministry of Transportation, inland ferries are now running on a 24-hour bases in case an evacuation order is issued for the thousands of Shambhala festival-goers.
Shambhala Music Festival previously issued a "pre-evacuation alert" to festival-goers on its website Wednesday, warning them to be prepared for changing conditions over the course of the four-day festival.
A new post Saturday urged guests to plan for a potential early departure and to ensure each group has a "well-rested designated driver."
Festival organizers are also installing a temporary footbridge over the Salmo River to offer a second way to exit as a precautionary measure, the post noted.
Fire officials say they are liaising with festival organizers in the event of an evacuation.
"We are in close communication with organizers… and have plans in place should we need to evacuate parts of the festival," Sgt. Annie Linteau with the RCMP said.
The popular electronic music festival has drawn more than 10,000 guests in the past. The festival happens every year at the 500-acre Salmo River Ranch in the West Kootenays.
With files from The Canadian Press.