UPDATE: 4:08 p.m.
The number of structures believed to have been destroyed by the Bush Creek East wildfire has risen to 270.
Columbia Shuswap Regional District officials on Tuesday afternoon revealed an updated count of buildings destroyed by the 43,000-hectare blaze, which went on a 20-kilometre run through the North Shuswap on Aug. 18.
According to the CSRD, 176 structures have been deemed a total loss — up from the previous estimate of 131.
No deaths or serious injuries have been reported as a result of the blaze. Last week, CSRD officials said they ran cadaver dogs through the wreckage in the North Shuswap to rule out any potential fatalities.
UPDATE: 3:46 p.m.
The Columbia-Shuswap Regional District is allowing some Shuswap residents back into their homes after weeks of being on evacuation order and alert.
Tracy Hughes, CSRD Emergency Operations Centre information officer, said an initial assessment of the affected areas has been complete and the CSRD is going ahead with a staged re-entry process.
“Those who lost structures to the wildfire are going to be the first to return to visit the area and take a look,” she said.
“They're going to have a chance to see their properties and take some time privately.”
Derek Sutherland, CSRD EOC director, spoke to some safety measures for those re-entering affected areas, saying the fire zone is still extremely dangerous.
“Nobody should enter burn structures, burn forest areas or areas marked and fenced off. We can't stress enough injury is likely if you enter these areas,” he said.
“Another important reminder is that water should be assumed to be non drinkable until testing has been completed.”
Sutherland said food left in fridges and freezers should be expected to be spoiled, and garbage bins have been placed in the Scotch Creek Market, the Ross Creek General Store in Anglemont, and along the Squilax-Anglemont Road in Lee Creek.
“If you're not from the North Shuswap, please stay away," he said. "We do not need additional people making re-entry for locals complicated."
Sutherland urged returning residents not to cancel emergency supports in case their residence is not liveable. He also stressed that some may want to wait to return after the initial congestion has cleared.
“Please do not show up earlier than your designated time to return,” he said.
“No matter what, it's going to take a long time to get everybody back and there'll be congestion on the road.”
On Wednesday, the CSRD Emergency Operations Centre plans to downgrade several evacuation orders to evacuation alerts, including:
- Beginning at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Celista and Magna Bay areas will see their evacuation orders downgraded.
- Beginning at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Scotch Creek and Lee Creek areas will see their evacuation orders downgraded.
- Beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Lower East Adams Lake and Tsútswecw park area will see their evacuation orders downgraded.
More information is available online.
UPDATE: 1:20 p.m.
Another evacuation alert has been downgraded to all-clear at the Bush Creek East wildfire.
This one is for Turtle Valley, on the east side of Little Shuswap Lake, where 207 properties have been given the all-clear.
An evac alert does remain in place for 57 properties, however, in TNRD Area L (Grasslands).
UPDATE: 12:55 p.m.
The evacuation alert for residents of Fadear Creek due to the Bush Creek East wildfire has been downgraded to all-clear.
The Thompson Nicola Regional District rescinded the alert as of 11 a.m. Tuesday.
The lifting of the alert applies to 12 properties in electoral Area O (Lower North Thompson) of the TNRD.
An evac alert was also partially downgraded to all-clear for the Agate Bay Road area.
The alert was lifted for 49 properties, but remains in place for 36 others.
A separate evacuation alert also remains in place at Agate Bay for properties within jurisdiction of the Adams Lake Indian Band.
ORIGINAL: 10:30 a.m.
The BC Wildfire Service says weather conditions will allow for consistent fire behaviour on the Bush Creek East wildfire, with little growth expected as crews continue to work the blaze that destroyed more than 200 homes.
Aydan Coray, BCWS fire information officer, said conditions are expected to become drier and warmer but no large change in fire behaviour is expected on the 43,000-hectare wildfire.
The fire has destroyed an estimated 235 homes, most of them on Aug. 18 when winds pushed the blaze on a 20-kilometre run through the North Shuswap toward Turtle Valley and Notch Hill.
“We're entering a period where it's pretty consistent, and then looking into another increase in temperature and dry conditions,” she said.
“The weekend, with the increase in temperature and dry conditions, just looking forward to any potential increase in our more active areas of the fire.”
BCWS said areas with high concentrations of fuels may persist in holding fire, with some Rank 1 fire behaviour — described as a smouldering ground fire — remaining.
Coray said no growth is expected on the fire over the next several days.
According to BCWS, there will be a risk of showers overnight over the fire and isolated afternoon showers and risk of a thunderstorm in the forecast for tomorrow.
Crews are continuing to work the blaze, with mop up efforts continuing north and west of Bruhn Creek and on Adam’s Hill along guards tying into Banshee Road.
“Closer to Scotch Creek and Lee Creek area, crews are working in and around the fire perimeter closest to properties,” Coray said.
“And then there's heli support where needed to action hotspots towards the east side near Onyx Creek.”
BCWS said crews are mopping up from Notch Hill Road to South Shore Place and establishing hoselay to the west.
Crews are also monitoring Turtle Valley above the highway and on the east ridge line.
According to BCWS, 182 wildland firefighters, 54 support staff, 54 pieces of heavy equipment, and 26 structure protection personnel are responding to the wildfire.
There are currently 11 helicopters assigned to the Adams Complex, which includes the Rossmoore Lake wildfire south of Kamloops