At least five homes have been lost as a wildfire continues to burn out of control north of Pemberton.
By Thursday, the Downton Lake wildfire had spread between Downton and Gun Lake, burning an estimated 1,795 hectares, according to the BC Wildfire Service. Squamish Lillooet Regional District estimated there are 192 properties in the area and hundreds of more properties nearby.
District chair Jen Ford said more structures could have been lost, but due to the properties being boat access, it’s hard to get to them and see the damage.
"At this point, we haven't confirmed because our team hasn't been able to access the area where the other structures are,” says Ford.
On Wednesday night, the regional district increased the number of properties under evacuation alert. The BC Wildfire Service recommended the closure and evacuation of South Chilcotin Mountains Park, located northwest of Gold Bridge.
"I feel incredibly sad for the people who are going through this stressful situation,” Ford says. "I think the stress is heightened by hearing about other regional districts and other communities that are also going through this.”
There are 347 wildfires actively burning in the province right now, with 13 of them are wildfires of note and 185 burning "out of control,” a status that measn they are continuing to spread and not responding to suppression efforts.
In just the last 24 hours, seven new wildfires have ignited.
“We are seeing and hearing what other people are going through around the province, it really takes it up a notch,” says Ford. “This is a devastating situation for everyone.”
Overnight there were cooler temperatures and no wind at the Downton Lake wildfire.
BC Wildfire Service says the fire was active at the head of the northern flank and burning higher on the mountainside.
“Our team does stand down overnight and have rejoined this morning,” Ford says. “As far as we can tell the situation hasn’t changed.”
The Downton Lake wildfire saw significant growth between Monday and Wednesday after shifting winds. Helicopters and roughly 130 personnel are responding to the wildfire.
Ford said the properties are under very steep terrain that is unstable.
“That’s where the hazards are,” she says.
Ford asks that everyone who has been evacuated check in with emergency social services to alert them.
“That data is really important for our teams, to understand who is in the area, especially in these more difficult-to-access properties,” says Ford.