A spotter plane takes off from the Canadian Rockies International Airport outside Cranbrook as the St. Mary’s River wildfire burns. Trevor Crawley photo.

Evacuation orders, alerts expanded as St. Mary’s River wildfire activity increases

Additional evacuation orders and alerts were issued north of Cranbrook overnight Wednesday in response to increased fire growth and activity from the St. Mary’s River wildfire.

The ʔaq̓am Community issued one evacuation order and one evacuation alert for properties on the the LD Ranch Rd. while the RDEK also issued an additional 15 evacuation orders and nine evacuation alerts for properties north of the reserve lands in the Woods Corner area.

Residents evacuating out of ʔaq̓am are asked to register with emergency social services at 7500b Mission Rd., online at www.ess.gov.bc.ca, or at 250-489-9677.

READ: Officials confirm 7 homes lost in St. Mary’s River wildfire

Residents evacuated out of lands north of the reserve can register with an emergency reception centre that has been set up at yaqakiǂ ʔit̓qawxaxamki (The Gathering Place) at the College of the Rockies campus in Cranbrook.

The wildfire is currently estimated at 850 hecatres, however, that may change later Thursday once updated information comes in.

It is suspected to be caused by downed power lines during heavy winds on Monday afternoon.

Nearly 100 firefighting personnel are on site, which includes resources from BC Wildfire Service, City of Cranbrook, City of Kimberley and contract crews. Air assets, such as air tankers and helicopters are also being utilized, along with heavy equipment on the ground.

A significant number of structural firefighters are mobilized, with some assets arriving late Wednesday as well as over the coming days.