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RDEK urging residents to be aware of wildfires over long weekend

The Regional District of East Kootenay is reminding people to be prepared and aware of forest fires over the long weekend.

RDEK officials said over 240 wildfires are currently burning across B.C., including a number of Fires of Note in the East Kootenay.

“Whether it is heading out on a vacation, to a second home or into the woods camping, it is critical for people to do their research about wildfires, Crown Land Area Restrictions and Evacuation Alerts or Orders that may be in effect around their destination,” said Regional Emergency Operations Centre Director Fiona Dercole. “If an area is under an Evacuation Alert, or if there is an active wildfire in the immediate area, we encourage people to choose a different destination.”

With hot temperatures of over 35 degrees expected over the weekend, RDEK officials said an Evacuation Alert can turn into and Evacuation Order at any time, day or night, so residents should be prepared.

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The RDEK said if an Evacuation order is issued provincial Emergency Support Services are only available for those living in their primary residence, so vacationers and second homeowners may have limited options if they are displaced.

“We also want to remind people that there are no fires permitted anywhere in the East Kootenay at this time – including campfires,” added Dercole.

“We are still receiving reports of campfires and it is critical that everyone abides by these burning restrictions and continues to be extremely diligent.”  Portable propane campfires are still permitted at this time; however, they must be ULC and CSA approved and have a maximum flame height of 15cm.

There are a number of backcountry areas currently closed to the public including, the Tanglefoot Area, Dewar Creek northwest of Kimberley, Ptarmigan Creek in the Whiteswan region and Mineral Creek southwest of Invermere.

The RDEK also said there is still an evacuation order in effect for Lazy Lake, east of Wasa and an Evacuation Alert in effect for the Lakit Lake and Holmes Road areas, including one property on Wildhorse Forest Service Road.

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