Residents of 31 properties can return home after Central Kootenay evacuation order lifted

Smoke from the Merry Creek wildfire is seen in an image from the B.C. Wildfire Service.

The evacuation order for an area of the Regional District of Central Kootenay has been lifted after firefighters successfully contained 90 per cent of the nearby Merry Creek wildfire.

At 12:30 p.m. on July 3, the central Kootenay authority announced the evacuation order for 31 properties was ending and said that evacuation alerts for several other areas have also ended.

“Crews have done an incredible job in containing this wildfire and minimizing damage to property,” said Nora Hannon, EOC director and RDCK regional fire chief, in the statement.

“BC Wildfire Service has declared the (Merry Creek) wildfire to be 90% contained and being held with the expectation the wildfire will be 100% contained within the next operational period.”

The local state of emergency has also been cancelled.

The RDCK implemented the order on July 1, after a fire was sparked about eight kilometres southwest of Castlegar. Fire officials quickly labelled it as a "wildfire of note." Residents of the 31 properties were ordered to evacuate, and six areas of Castlegar were put on evacuation alert, as was one other nearby property.

The evacuation order for the more than two-dozen Kootenay properties came just days after the village of Lytton, in a different region of the Interior, went up in flames after a dangerous heatwave and was destroyed completely.

Highway 3 will also be reopened to single lane traffic on Saturday, after a temporary closure, and power on several of the properties will be “remain out” while firefighters continue their work.

“The RDCK advises people to remain vigilant in the event that conditions change and an Evacuation Alert or Order may be re-issued and the evacuation process will recommence.”

Residents are advised to prepare an emergency kit and to be ready to move pets and livestock to a safe area in the event of another emergency.