No significant growth in Hunakwa Lake wildfire

Hunakwa lake fire 2

UPDATE: 7:51 a.m. July 18

Columbia Shuswap Regional District reporting there has been no significant growth in the size of the Hunakwa Lake Fire since the July 16, 2021 report, which pegged fire size at 1,100 hectares. There has, however, been some increase in fire behaviour.

In an aerial survey conducted yesterday, some fire candling was observed in areas of the fire. Candling is where a tree or small clump of trees ignites and flares up from bottom to top, and this can easily ignite adjacent vegetation.

As a result, the precautionary Evacuation Alert remains in effect for the community of Seymour Arm until further notice.

The increased fire behaviour, however, was primarily observed on a ridge moving away from the community.  

The BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) is monitoring the fire through satellite imagery and is continuing to conduct daily fly-overs of the fire to gauge fire growth and behaviour. They are updating the Shuswap Emergency Program regularly.

BCWS continues with plans to use machinery to widen existing roads and trails to build a fire guard for the community. As well, water sprinklers are being strategically deployed to protect structures which are closest to the fire. A CSRD Structural Protection Unit arrived in Seymour Arm this morning and will be assisting with these efforts. 

Seymour Arm residents should still be prepared to leave the community on short notice, if fire behaviour shifts. This includes packing at least one week’s worth of clothing and toiletries as part of preparations and keeping all vehicles filled with gas.

All Seymour Arm residents are reminded to self-register with Emergency Support Services online

As accommodations in the Shuswap are limited at this time, arrangements should be made to stay with family and friends, if possible.


UPDATE: 9:37 a.m. July 17

At this time, the BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) is reporting the estimated size of the Hunakwa Lake Fire at 1,100 hectares following an aerial survey of the area. The fire is approximately 3.7 kilometres away from the closest structure in the Seymour Arm area.

B.C Wildfire Service is reporting the Hunakwa Lake fire is exhibiting Rank 2 fire behaviour, which is characterized as a ground fire with some visible, open flame and a slow rate of speed. They indicate the main growth area of the fire is away from the community.

Based on the updated fire behaviour information, BCWS is working with other agencies and private industry on plans to widen existing roads and natural fire-break areas to create a fire guard for the community of Seymour Arm.

The community of Seymour Arm remains on Evacuation Alert. This will continue until further notice. Residents and any remaining visitors need to be prepared for evacuation on short notice.

Backed by the BC Wildfire Service, the CSRD has three fire crews in Seymour Arm to assist with fire protection. A Structural Protection Unit is also being deployed, which includes five structural firefighters, two vehicles and a trailer equipped with water sprinkling systems.


UPDATE: 9: 23 a.m. July 17

The BC Wildfire Service is working with other agencies and private industry on planning and placement of a machine-built fire guard to assist in the protection of the community of Seymour Arm.

BC Wildfire is also closely monitoring the fire situation and is updating the Shuswap Emergency Program regularly.

The community of Seymour Arm remains on Evacuation Alert. This will continue until further notice. Residents and any remaining visitors need to be prepared for evacuation on short notice.

The fire continues to grow primarily upslope into unpopulated areas, however, fire spread is slowly moving north, towards the community of Seymour Arm.

Backed by the BC Wildfire Service, the CSRD has sent three fire crews along with three fire trucks to Seymour Arm to assist with fire protection. These crews are on site and ready to deal with any community protection efforts, as needed.

A Structural Protection Unit is being deployed to the community of Seymour Arm, which includes five structural firefighters, two vehicles and a trailer equipped with water sprinkling systems.

Columbia Shuswap Regional District’s FireSmart representatives have also travelled to Seymour Arm to provide advice and information to property owners about how to reduce their fire risk to their home and property.

All Seymour Arm residents are reminded to self-register with Emergency Support Services online. When registering, please indicate the community as Seymour Arm. This step is critical as it provides important information in case of an evacuation.

It is advised for residents to pack up at least one week’s worth of clothing and toiletries as part of their preparations. Vehicles should be kept filled with gas. As accommodations in the Shuswap are limited at this time, arrangements should be made to stay with family and friends, if possible.


UPDATE:  5:25 a.m. July 16

The community of Seymour Arm remains on Evacuation Alert and until further notice. The BC Wildfire Service is reporting the Hunakwa Lake fire has grown from 230 hectares to 650 hectares.

The fire is mostly growing upslope into unpopulated areas, however, there has been some fire spread to the north, towards the community of Seymour Arm.

Backed by the BC Wildfire Service, the CSRD has sent three fire crews along with three fire trucks to Seymour Arm to assist with fire protection.

Some CSRD’s FireSmart representatives have also travelled to Seymour Arm to provide advice and information to property owners about how to reduce their fire risk to their home and property.

BC Wildfire is also assessing the situation regularly and is developing a protection plan for the community.

All Seymour Arm residents are reminded to self-register with Emergency Support Services.  You are asked to indicate your community as Seymour Arm when registering. This is critical as it provides important information in case of an evacuation.

Residents also need to be prepared for evacuation on short notice. Vehicles should be kept filled with gas, and pack at least one week’s worth of clothing and toiletries.

As accommodations in the Shuswap are limited, arrangements should be made to stay with family and friends if possible.

Visitors staying in the Seymour Arm area should consider changing their vacation plans and relocating out of the Evacuation Alert area.

-- with files from Columbia Shuswap Regional District --


ORIGINAL: 12:59 p.m. July 14

An Evacuation Alert has been issued by the Columbia Shuswap Regional District at the Shuswap Emergency Program’s Emergency Operations Centre. A wildfire burning in the area of Hunakwa Lake in Electoral Area F is growing and may pose a danger. As a precautionary measure and due to the potential danger to life, health or property, an Evacuation Alert is in effect for the following areas:

The community of Seymour Arm

An Evacuation Alert is a warning about a potential threat to life and/or property. It is intended to give you time to be ready for a possible evacuation. Residents will be given as much advance notice as possible prior to evacuation, however, you may receive limited notice due to changing conditions.

WHAT YOU SHOULD YOU DO WHEN AN ALERT IS IN EFFECT

Upon notification of an ALERT:

All residents self-register with Emergency Support Services online through this link. You can also search this on Google using the term BC Evacuation Registration and Assistance. When registering, please indicate your community as Seymour Arm. This step is critical as it provides important information in case of an evacuation.

Locate your grab-and-go bags for you and your family. Gather essential items such as medications, eyeglasses, valuable papers, immediate care needs for dependents. Replenish any items that have expired or need replacement, ensure you and your family members have enough clothing and incidentals for a 72-hour period and have these items readily available for quick departure. Visit the Province of British Columbia website for prepardness information.

Contact family members, advise them of the situation and determine a meeting location outside of the evacuation area where you can safely reconnect should the area be evacuated.

Accommodation in the Shuswap area is limited at this time of year. Arrange to stay with family or friends, if possible, or consider finding a campsite outside the alert area.

Arrange transportation for all household members. Prepare to move any disabled persons and/or children. Fill the gas tanks of personal vehicles.

Take care of your pets by moving them to a safe location (including horses and hobby farm animals).

Emergency Support Services cannot provide support to visitors to the area or those with secondary dwellings. People visiting the area should consider relocating at this time.

Regularly monitor the CSRD website, the Shuswap Emergency Program’s (SEP) website, the Shuswap Emergency on Facebook and Twitter, the CSRD's FacebookTwitter platforms or local news sources for up-to-date and accurate information.

The BC Wildfire Service has advised they have limited resources for firefighting at this time, so residents need to be prepared in case the fire continues to move north towards the community. The Shuswap Emergency Program is requesting resources from the province and nearby fire departments.

For update on wildfire information, see the BC Wildfire Service website.