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Wildfire near Cranbrook triples in size, now burning more than 2,600 hectares |

A wildfire burning near the southeastern B.C. community of Cranbrook has more than tripled in size since it was last measured on Wednesday.

The BC Wildfire Service’s latest estimate pegs the fire at more than 2,600 hectares in size, up from 850 the night before.

The St. Mary’s River fire was discovered on Monday, and is burning about 10 kilometres northeast of the East Kootenay community, primarily on ʔaq’am reserve land.

Click to play video: 'Seven homes destroyed by wildfire near Cranbrook'

Seven homes destroyed by wildfire near Cranbrook

At least seven homes on the reserve have been destroyed, and 52 homes in that community have been evacuated.

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On Wednesday night, the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) issued its own evacuation order for 15 properties north of ʔaq’am, and placed nine others on an evacuation alert.

“There’s a real combination of properties, everything from commercial operations to large ranches with larger scale homes to small, individual properties,” Loree Duczek with the RDEK emergency operations centre told Global News.

The BC Wildfire Service said it has four initial attack crews and two unit crews fighting the fire, with support from helicopters and air skimmers.

There are 125 personnel including BC Wildfire staff and contract crews on site, along with support from Cranbrook and Kimberly municipal firefighters.

Click to play video: 'Wildfire near Cranbrook grows to 8 square kilometers'

Wildfire near Cranbrook grows to 8 square kilometers

Wright said more than 50 people are involved specifically in work to protect structures.

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“Crews are working overnight to both monitor fire conditions, they are working overnight on structure protection to monitor and activate structure protection sprinklers if needed,” she said.

“They’re also working with heavy equipment to keep those heavy equipment control lines going, they’re establishing water delivery systems, and they’re also doing small scale … planned ignitions to remove some of that fuel between the fire’s edge and the control line in a controlled way.

The wildfire service said higher humidity and lower temperatures Thursday morning helped reduce fire activity, but there is concern the fire could flare up in its northeast and northwest corners.

While the fire has residents on edge, Duczek said it has also helped showcase some of the best of the community.

Click to play video: 'Wildfire forces evacuations near Cranbrook'

Wildfire forces evacuations near Cranbrook

“One of the things I’ve learned over my years working here in this region is the incredible heart people have and we are seeing that come out in spades right now, so I am just very appreciative for all of the people in the East Kootenay who are stepping up to help,” she said.

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“Whether that’s taking in animals, helping have people stay at their homes, billeting people, putting trailers and recreational vehicles on their property, helping facilitate movement of animals, just offering meals and support and a shoulder. There’s just a huge outpouring of support here and it really makes me proud.”

People in the region, particularly those who have been placed under an evacuation alert, are being reminded to plan ahead about where they would go if ordered to leave, and to ensure they have essential items at hand in a grab-and-go bag.

You can find out more about how to prepare for an evacuation order here.

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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