Wildfires threaten to trap Bella Coola, B.C.
Published Tuesday, August 4, 2009 2:01PM PDT
Emergency officials are reporting two fires near the town of Bella Coola on B.C.'s central coast -- one burning mere kilometres from town, the other threatening to block the area's main evacuation routes.
The 200-hectare fire on Noohalk Mountain is burning just 1.5 kilometres from town, leading to evacuations in the area between McLellan Road and Cemetary Road along Highway 20 and Walker Road.
More than 60 homes have been evacuated.
In Pictures: Bella Coola, B.C., wildfire blazes
Stephen Waugh, emergency program coordinator for Bella Coola, says although crews have been unable to contain the fire, the town is not at an immediate risk.
"The fire has been moving mostly to the east, which is toward Hagensborg - but not at a great pace," Waugh said.
A line of fire retardant has been laid at the foot of the mountain to keep the fire at bay.
More alarming, Waugh said, is the possibility another 150-hectare fire on Salloomt Mountain may block a future evacuation attempt.
"A much larger concern in the Bella Coola region is a fire at Heckman's Pass, which is requiring a highway to stay closed and that is virtually cutting off our evacuation routes if we want to evacuate the valley itself."
Highway 20 is expected to be closed intermittently over the next few days.
Twenty-five firefighters, three helicopters and two pieces of heavy equipment are working to contain the currently out of control fire on Noohalk Mountain, while 13 firefighters and two helicopters battle the Salloomt Mountain blaze.
For information on the Noohalk and Salloomt Mountain fires, and all other major fires burning in the province, residents can call a new information line at 1-888-350-6070.